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Desk set

Desk set

  • Place of origin:

    Vienna (city) (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1910 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Josef Hoffmann, born 1870 - died 1956 (designer)
    Wiener Werkstätte (manufacturer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Veneered in mother-of-pearl and ebony, with bases in black cloth, and other elements of leather, glass and silver plate

  • Museum number:

    CIRC.363:B to D-1976

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Small luxury objects veneered in mother-of-pearl were produced in great numbers in Vienna in the Biedermeier period (1815-1840). About 60 years later the designers of the Wiener Werkstätte were doubtless consciously echoing those prototypes, although the shape of the early 20th-century pieces is squarer and their decoration much more geometrical. In 1912 the Österreichisches Museum für angewandte Kunst (Austrian Museum of Applied Arts) paid the large sum of 300 crowns to the Wiener Werkstätte for one cigarette box with very similar decoration to this desk set.

Place of Origin

Vienna (city) (made)

Date

ca. 1910 (made)

Artist/maker

Josef Hoffmann, born 1870 - died 1956 (designer)
Wiener Werkstätte (manufacturer)

Materials and Techniques

Veneered in mother-of-pearl and ebony, with bases in black cloth, and other elements of leather, glass and silver plate

Object history note

(Bought from Michael Pruskin)
(Registered Papers 76/1290)

Historical context note

Small luxury objects veneered in mother-of-pearl were produced in great numbers in Vienna in the Biedermeier period between 1815 and 1840. Their Wiener Werkstätte successors from about 1900 were doubtless consciously echoing those prototypes. However while Biedermeier products delighted in mother-of-pearl for its simple gaudiness, it seems likely that Hoffmann and his contemporaries also savoured its voluptuous suggestiveness. This taste is nicely exemplified in a painting of 1909 by Oskar Zwintscher (1870-1916), 'Gold and Perlmutter', in which a reclining symbolist femme fatale bedecked only in gold jewellery reclines beside a casket of mother-of-pearl. In 1912 the Österreichisches Museum für angewandte Kunst paid 300 crowns to the Wiener Werkstätte for a cigarette box with very similar decoration to this desk-set. Another matching set is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (1977.72.1-5).

Descriptive line

One of five pieces in set, Austria, 1910, mother-of-pearl and black leather; 5 pieces (a-e); Austria, 1910, mother-of-pearl black leather

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Jervis, Simon: Furniture Of About 1900 From Austria & Hungary In The Victoria & Albert Museum, London: Victoria & Albert Museum, 1986, no.14, p. 40, 41
Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration, XXV, 1909-1910, p. 231, illus.
Der Wiener Kongress, Vienna, 1965, p. 395, clock, illus. plate 70
Die Wiener Werkstätte, Österreichisches Museum für angewandte Kundt, Vienna, 1967, p.41, No.37
Karen Livingstone and Linda Parry, eds., International Arts & Crafts (V&A: V&A Publications, 2005), p.240.

Materials

Mother of pearl; Ebony; Cloth; Glass; Leather; Plated metal

Techniques

Plating; Veneering; Weaving

Categories

Stationery; Household objects

Collection

Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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