Vienna's Ceramics Workshop

Czech Secessionist Two-Handled Urn with Crackled Finish and Bronze Metallic Glazed Medallion (LEO Design)

The Secessionist Movement is the Viennese contribution to the larger Art Nouveau Movement—with its focus on handcraft, simple materials and stylized naturalistic motif. And Vienna's reach was wide; throughout the enormous Austro-Hungarian Empire, Vienna was the Empire's premier tastemaker, the elegant and glittering city of culture and sophistication. However, while Vienna called the aesthetic tunes, not everything in the Empire was made within that city.  This vase was made in the mid-to-late Twenties in (then) Czechoslovakia by a company called Ditmar-Urbach. We might consider Czechoslovakia the glass and ceramics workshop of the larger Empire—due to Bohemia's long history of excellence and craftsmanship in these areas. This type of ceramics (sometimes called "Alienware" in recent years) was made mostly for export to the rest of Europe and the Americas. In 1929 the stock market crashed, triggering a world wide economic depression. As the demand for frivolous exported objets faded, companies like Ditmar-Urbach lost most of its traditional customer base. Furthermore, in the 1930's, Czechoslovakia (and much of Europe) was undergoing tremendous political change and challenge—movements which shook society to its core.  At times like these, consumer aesthetics often find themselves on the back burner.  

I once found a similar, though unmarked, piece in an antiques shop in Prague.  The shopkeeper had labeled it as French—she was so unfamiliar with it in her home city.  She refused to believe that it was Czech!  I bought it anyway.

To learn more about this piece, please click-upon the photo above.


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