Vienna around 1900 was also an exciting time from an art historical point of view. The overcoming of historicism and the dawn of a new era characterize all branches of art. Bertold Löffler and Michael Powolny, two young graduates and later professors of the Vienna School of Applied Arts, were also carried away by the new spirit; they dared to take the plunge into self-employment and founded the manufactory Wiener Keramik. Soon they had to realize how difficult it is to be economically successful, even though they had a recognized and internationally active distribution partner in the Wiener Werkstätte.

During its existence from 1906 to 1912, the Wiener Keramik designed and probably produced about 330 models. There was no modern market analysis at that time, and so ceramics of different shapes and styles were produced, to find out which models would be accepted by the buyers. It was not only simple vessels in strict forms, but also female figures in Biedermeier dresses, the so-called Crinolines, or putti in various contexts, that were put on the market. In many cases, the models also display rich floral or fruit decorations, and sometimes exceptional models occur, which are able to enchant the viewer and take him into another world. The more one deals with the epoch of Vienna around 1900 as well as with the material ceramics and the different workshops of that time in Vienna, but also in Central Europe, the more one recognizes the extraordinary quality of the models of the Wiener Keramik. Apart from all objectivity, it can be said subjectively that the products of the Wiener Keramik are among the best in ceramics that was created in Central Europe in the first two decades of the 20th century. It is not without reason that works by Bertold Löffler and Michael Powolny can be found in all important public and private collections of ceramics and Jugendstil worldwide.

The project for this book has been around for many years. There was a lot of literature to be considered, but above all, many thousands of objects were considered and “felt”. The authenticity of a ceramic work of art can usually not be judged on the basis of photographs or the attached signatures or marks, but it requires touching of the ceramic body, both in terms of its surface and especially the weight of the model.

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