In 1839, thirty-one year old Joachim Herman Kähler moved from Northern Germany to Nestved, Denmark where he opened a ceramics manufacturing workshop. For the next thirty-or-so years, Kähler produced practical home and kitchen items, most notably an oil lamp called “the all night burner.” In 1872, his sons, Herman August and Carl Frederick, took-over the business. In time, Herman bought-out his brother and began to experiment with decorative art pottery production. It is this man, Herman August, who is most associated with pushing the family company to become the well-respected pottery it grew into.
The Copenhagen Drawing School for Women, an art school, contracted with Kähler in 1883 to fire their students’ work in his kilns. This stirred a creative impulse within the ceramicist to experiment more; as a result, Kähler pushed himself to produce new and different designs and he experimented relentlessly with glazes. His “Holy Grail” was to develop a ruby red glaze—which few Europeans had ever figured-out. In 1888 Kähler mastered the elusive color which worked particularly well on his newly-developed Art Nouveau designs. He exhibited the color the next year in Paris at The 1889 World Exhibition. Overnight, the ceramicist became world-famous for his “Kähler Red” and his works were purchased by many international art museums.
As Herman August Kähler pushed his ceramics artistry forward, many famous artists—painters, sculptors, architects—collaborated with him on his collections. Today, Kähler is considered one of the more important modern Danish ceramicists, not only for his work, but for the influence he exercised upon the craft within his country.
Kähler died in 1917. His workshop continued to grow under the next two generations of Kählers, increasing its reputation and international reach. Finally, in 1974, the company was closed.
The piece above, from the 1950’s, is at once Modernist and a tip of the hat to Middle-Eastern Iznik ceramics. Please click on the photo to learn more about it.