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20th Century Giants of Modern Taste at Bonhams Wiener Werkstatte Collection for Sale
Schaschl, terracotta female figure. Photo: Bonhams.

LONDON.- Bonhams is to sell an important collection of Weiner Werkstätte (Vienna Workshops) artefacts at its ‘Design Since 1860’ sale on 16 June.

The collection was accumulated by a collector and dealer in the Decorative Arts from various sources throughout Britain and Europe over the last thirty years. It demonstrates the depth and breadth of the movement and the enormous influence it has wielded from its beginnings in 1903 to the present day. The collection was shown in its entirety at the Dorman Museum in Middlesbrough in 2009 and most of it - over 110 objects in all – is included in this sale.

For nearly 30 years at the beginning of the 20th Century the Wiener Werkstätte dominated European design and came to define modern style in ways which are still influential over 100 years later. It originated in the Vienna Succession movement, itself a reaction against the conservatism of the art establishment in Austria. It was at one of the Succession’s exhibitions that the Wiener Werkstätte’s founders, Josef Hoffmann and Koloman Moser, met two of the leading lights of the Arts and Crafts movement, Glasgow designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh and London based designer Charles Ashbee. Visits to the UK followed and, in 1903, the Weiner Werkstätte was born.

Bonhams Director of 20th Century Decorative Arts, Mark Oliver says, “So much of what we think of as modern dates from this hugely influential movement which reached into all areas of design from cabinet making, glass, leatherwork and ceramics to wallpaper, fashion and jewellery.”

The sale includes examples from the movement’s most innovative years and greatest designers including glassware, silverware and lighting by Hoffmann and Moser from 1904 to the mid 1920s, pre-war ceramics by Michael Powolny and work by Dagobert Peche. (Estimates range from £700 – 900 for two ceramic birds of 1913 by Powolny to £6,000 – 8,000 for a pair of brass candlesticks from 1920 by Hoffmann).

By the late 1920s the Wiener Werkstätte’s work was increasingly seen as repetitive and out of touch with changing tastes and it went into administration in 1932. Its influence lived on, however, as the astonishingly contemporary looking pieces in this sale show.

Bonhams | Collection of Weiner Werkstätte | Mark Oliver |

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