Sample (Austria), 1914–22
This is a Sample. It was designed by Wiener Werkstätte. It is dated 1914–22 and we acquired it in 2005. Its medium is silk and its technique is block-printed on plain weave. It is a part of the Textiles department.
The Werkstätte Produktiv Genossenschaft von Kunsthandwerkern in Wien (Art-Craft Workshop Cooperative in Vienna), more popularly known as the Wiener Werkstätte, was founded in 1903 by Secession members Josef Hoffmann and Koloman Moser. As much a movement as a financial enterprise, it had support from the artist Gustav Klimt and the architect Otto Wagner. The workshop was founded on the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the principles of C. R. Ashbee’s Guild of Handicraft. The Werkstätte’s goals were to fulfill the ideals of the guild system: to establish a direct relationship between designers, craftspeople, and the public by producing well designed domestic goods and reversing the decline in the quality of handmade objects. They rejected machine production, which resulted in costly products and ultimately thwarted wider public access. The textile and fashion divisions were founded in 1909 and 1910, respectively, at a time when there was a renewed interest in figurative representation rather than geometric design. The workshop dissolved in 1932.
The collection of approximately 156 printed silk samples proposed for acquisition would provide a broad view of the range and diversity of printed silks produced by the workshop. The samples include many patterns by important designers, including Hoffman, Dagobert Peche, Felice Rix-Ueno, and Carl Otto Czeschka, which would bring greater depth to the museum’s body of material from these artists. Many of the patterns are shown in multiple color variations and some still bear their original Wiener Werkstätte label, which provides additional information for scholarly research. Although the samples are no longer bound together in book form, the collection of loose samples is nevertheless an excellent resource for study. Furthermore, many of the samples are sufficiently large and well-preserved to make dynamic exhibition pieces.
The museum has been actively expanding its Wiener Werkstätte holdings since the late 1980s. In addition to the Wiener Werkstätte decorative arts objects and wallcoverings already in the collection, our collection includes more than a dozen textiles from this famous workshop. In 1988, the museum acquired 1500 textile design drawings from the workshop’s archive—the largest group of Werkstätte drawings outside of Vienna. These designs for printed textiles document more than 100 different designs by the leading studio members active in the textiles shop including Hoffmann, Peche, Czeschka, Rix-Ueno, and Maria Likarz. A good number of the patterns in the drawings collection directly relate to the printed textiles in the proposed sample collection. These include Wasserorgel and Bavaria by Czeschka, Irrgarten and Marina by Peche (the latter known from Gustav Klimt’s portrait of Friederike Beer-Monti wearing a dress featuring Marina). This group of textile samples documents a significant number of Hoffmann’s early geometric patterns that are not currently represented in the drawings collection, such as Jagdfalke, Miramar, Nile, and Triangle. These and other original designs make this collection of textile samples a highly important and recommended addition to the growing number of Werkstätte objects in the museum’s collection.
It is credited
Museum purchase from General Acquisitions Endowment Fund.
Its dimensions are
H x W: 14.6 x 19.1 cm (5 3/4 x 7 1/2 in.)
Cite this object as
Sample (Austria), 1914–22; Designed by Wiener Werkstätte (Austria); silk; H x W: 14.6 x 19.1 cm (5 3/4 x 7 1/2 in.); Museum purchase from General Acquisitions Endowment Fund; 2005-8-95