Vienna Calling - part II

Czech Secessionist Vase with Pierced Handles and Gunmetal Medallion (LEO Design)

German brothers Friedrich and Karel Rudolf Ditmar moved to Vienna in 1839 where they began selling metal oil lamps.  Within a few years, they were manufacturing the lamps. They struck gold when they designed a lamp mechanism which better-moderated the oil flow to the wick—and soon this type of lamp fitting was selling worldwide. But the fashion in oil lamps was changing—favoring ceramic lamp bodies which offered more color, style and aesthetic options. So the brothers opened a ceramics workshop across the Czech border in a town called Znojmo. Their sole intention was to make ceramic bodies for oil lamps; in time, however, the workshop was producing porcelain dishes, majolica, steins and "sanitary ware" (sinks, water coolers, tubs).

In 1919 (long after electricity had replaced oil lamps, at least in the urban centers), the ceramics workshop was merged with another pottery operated by the Brothers Urbach. The resulting conglomeration was called "Ditmar-Urbach" and they produced decorative and serviceware pieces, much of it for export outside of Czechoslovakia. In the decade to follow, vases like the one shown above were made. This piece still reflects the Secessionist taste and style popular in Vienna (which was the head of the Austro-Hungarian Empire). But the company also branched into a strong Art Deco direction and made a lot of colorful, whimsically hand-painted service pieces like water pitchers, sugar bowls and creamers.

In 1938, when the Nazis occupied Czechoslovakia, the company (which was Jewish-owned) was taken from its owners who were forced to flee. In 1945, after the war, the pottery was nationalized.

Please click on the photo above to learn more about this piece.


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