Collecting Articles and Features

The Glass Designers of the Wiener Werkstätte

The architect Josef Hoffmann, the painter and graphic designer Koloman Moser, and patron Fritz Waerndorfer founded the Wiener Werkstätte, or Vienna Workshop, in 1903. It was a successful association in Vienna, Austria, that brought together architects, artists, designers, and artisans working in the fields of ceramics, fashion, silver, furniture, and the graphic arts. The Wiener Werkstätte was known for their wide variety of styles in glassware and we take a look at some of the designers and their glass designs.

The glass designers of the Wiener Werkstätte produced beautiful pieces that were both decorative and functional. Some of the most popular styles included enameled glass, opaque glass, and cut glass. The Workshop also produced a wide variety of stemware, including wine glasses, champagne flutes, and cocktail glasses. Their glassware was highly sought after by collectors and is still considered to be some of the finest examples of Art Nouveau glassware ever created.

Some of the most famous glass designers of the Workshop were Josef Hoffmann, Koloman Moser, Otto Prutscher and Dagobert Peche.

Josef Hoffmann (1870-1956) was a co-founder of the Wiener Werkstätte and is credited with creating many of its most iconic designs, including the Hoffmann vase. He was known for his unique and innovative use of color in his glass pieces including amethyst, as well as his distinctive geometric patterns.Hoffman’s glass creations, many of which were panel-cut and emulated the shape of early 19th-century Biedermeir glass, were centred on decorative form up until the 1920s.

Josef Hoffmann Bowl Moser Karlsbad for the Wiener Werkstätte c1910
Josef Hoffmann Bowl Moser Karlsbad for the Wiener Werkstätte c1910. Sold for 1,800 Euros at Auktionshaus Im Kinsky, December 2020.

He designs included a range of cameo glass which was typically Viennese, with vertical lines and stylised bell-flowers and geometric shapes. One of his most famous designs is the simple Amethyst Vase, which was made in glass and features a stunning amethyst color.Josef Hoffmann Bowl Moser Karlsbad for the Wiener Werkstätte c1910

A rare tall vase produced by Loetz Witwe Klášterský mlýn design by architect Josef Hoffmann. The simple twisted Art Nouveau shape is provided with a hand-painted decorative garland and emphasizes the fibrous structure, which mixes clear and opaque colored glass.. Sold for 2,200 Euros at Arthouse Hejtmánek, December 2020.

Koloman Moser (1868-1918) was also a co-founder of the Workshop and was responsible for designing many of its early catalogs and promotional materials. He is best known for his colorful and intricate glass pieces, which often featured floral motifs. The designs were executed by Bakalowitz and by Loetz. Moser’s work was quite radical and many designs were acid-cut on overlay and embellished  with enamelling. Moser was also known for adding ball feet to some of his work.

Loetz Argus Glass Vase in Shape Designed by Koloman Moser circa 1902
Loetz Argus Glass Vase in Shape Designed by Koloman Moser circa 1902. Sold for $21,250 at Heritage Auctions, October 2021.

Austrian Otto Prutscher (1880-1949)  was a key member of the Wiener Werkstätte more famous for his jewllery and silver, but he was also a renowned glass designer. He was heavily influenced by the Art Nouveau movement, and his glass designs are often intricate and ornate, with curving lines and natural forms. Many of his pieces feature etched or cut-glass designs, and are often decorated with gold or silver leaf. His glass table lamps are extremely rare and valuable and his glasses are especially sort after.

Prutscher designed and created a suite of glasses in a range of colours including red, black, green and yellow. The stems of these glass were overly long and often featured a trademark chequered motif. The bowl of the glass was often as large as the base. Single glasses have sold for £5000 / 6000 Euros. Many of Prutscher’s designs were made by the Bohemian glass factory Meyr’s Neffe.

Otto Prutscher Meyrs Neffe - A set of eight stemmed wine glasses in a range of colours deep blue citron cerise pink amethyst magent dark green and two emerald green all circa 1906
Otto Prutscher – Meyr’s Neffe – A set of eight stemmed wine glasses in a range of colours to comprise one deep blue, one citron, one cerise pink, one amethyst, one magenta, one dark green, two emerald green all circa 1906, each with a circular spread foot below a colour cased and ladder cut stem with colour cased ovoid bowl flash cut with a vertical panels below a square lozenge border to the upper rim, height 21cm. Sold for £25,000 at Fieldings Auctioneers, October 2016.

Dagobert Peche (1887-1923) was a member of the Wiener Werkstätte from 1915 until his death in 1923. He specialized in glass design, and his work is characterized by its simplicity and elegance, often with freely-placed graphic motifs. His pieces were often made in collaboration with the ceramicist Josef Hoffmann, and the two artists frequently exhibited their work together. In addition to his work for the Wiener Werkstätte. Peche also designed glassware for companies such as Lobmeyr and Moser.

Dagobert Peche For Wiener Werkstatte Footed Glass Vase Made By Oertel Haida 1919-20
Dagobert Peche For Wiener Werkstatte Footed Glass Vase Made By Oertel Haida 1919-20. Sold for £4,500 at Lyon & Turnbull, April 2010.

It is not unusual for different decorators to work on designed pieces. It is known that Dagobert Peche decorated many of Josef Hoffmann’s designs. Pieces by actual Wiener Werkstätte glass designers are very desirable and valuable. If it is not certain a designer created a piece it may be attributed to them. Other notable Wiener Werkstätte designers include Maria Kirschner, Eduard Josef Wimmer-Wisgrill and Karl Pohl.

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