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Box (Austria)

This is a box. It was designed by Koloman Moser and manufactured by Wiener Werkstätte. It is dated 1902–05 and we acquired it in 2010. Its medium is silver-plated brass. It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.

This box, designed by Kolomon Moser and made by the Wiener Werkstätte, is constructed of sheets of silver-plated brass. On the base are five stamped marks, which the Wiener Werkstätte saw as crucial representative symbols. Keeping with the concept of aesthetically significant marks for identification, the group designed several marks and individual designers and makers contributed their own. The first mark on the box is the Rose Mark, which was created by Josef Hoffman and is arguably the most commonly seen symbol on Wiener Werkstätte silver. The second mark is the “WW” monogram in an oval (used from 1903–05), which identifies the piece as being produced within the Wiener Werkstätte. The third and fourth marks are for Moser and incorporate his initials in different arrangements and shaped shields. The fifth mark, the letter “T” enclosed in a larger “Q,” is likely the maker’s mark of the craftsman who executed the work. The inclusion of this last mark is significant, as it demonstrates the importance the Wiener Werkstätte placed on design and execution over material value; the same amount of energy was expended in the design and execution for both silver-plated and solid silver pieces. This box has all the same marks a silver piece would have had, except for the silver standard mark.
Moser, an Austrian designer and painter, was one of the leading figures of early 20th-century design. He worked in a variety of media, including glass, silver, and textiles, and designed works ranging from postage stamps to stained glass. Moser was one of the founders of the Wiener Werkstätte in 1903 but left the group in 1907 to focus on his own work. Though his time at the Wiener Werkstätte was brief, he made a great impact on the group. The famous Wiener Werkstätte monogram is attributed to Moser—the typographic treatment of which shows similarities to the mark created and used for the British Arts and Crafts movement by the Scottish designer, Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
The Wiener Werkstätte and its major designers, as well as Viennese designers of the early 20th century, are significant in the history of design. At the time of proposed acquisition, the museum’s decorative and applied arts holdings in this area include glass objects by Josef Hoffman and the Elephant Table by Adolf Loos. The museum holds graphic and textile designs by Moser, but this box would be the first example of Moser’s object design in the museum’s collection. The box’s decorative treatment has a strong affinity with Moser’s Die Quelle wall decorations in the collection, which adds to our understanding of the cross-fertilization of his designs. This fine piece is a wonderful addition to the museum’s collection of metalwork and influential design from the early 20th century.

This object was featured in our Object of the Week series in a post titled Branded in Early Twentieth-Century Vienna.

This object was donated by Anne Ehrenkranz. It is credited Gift of Anne Ehrenkranz.

Its dimensions are

L x W x D: 15.2 x 14.5 x 6.3 cm (6 x 5 11/16 x 2 1/2 in.)

It has the following markings

Marked with rose mark used for 1902-5; with Wiener Werkstätte overlapping Ws in an oval, two Koloman Moser marks: one "K" under larger "M" in a square, the other "K" within an "M" in a circle, and the metalworker's mark "TQ" in a circle.

Cite this object as

Box (Austria); Designed by Koloman Moser (Austrian, 1868–1918); silver-plated brass; L x W x D: 15.2 x 14.5 x 6.3 cm (6 x 5 11/16 x 2 1/2 in.); Gift of Anne Ehrenkranz; 2010-24-1

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Box (Austria) |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=6 October 2022 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>