Margaret Wittgenstein (1882-1958) married the American Jerome Stonborough (1873-1938) in Vienna on 7 January 1905. For their wedding and their subsequent move to Berlin, Karl Wittgenstein (1847-1913), the bride's father, commissioned the Wiener Werkstätte to furnish the couple's Berlin apartment (In den Zelten 21a). Wittgenstein was a German-born Austrian steel tycoon and, at the time, one of the richest men in the world. His sons were the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein and the pianist Paul Wittgenstein and he was also a major patron of the Vienna Secession. In the same year, he commissioned Klimt to paint Margaret's portrait, which today hangs in the Neue Pinakothek in Munich. Koloman Moser and Josef Hoffmann supplied the interior designs for the apartment, including all ancillary facilities such as the kitchen and the servant’s quarters.
Margaret, writing to her mother in Vienna on 18 April 1905 remarked that "Moser - who was absolutely charming again - and I have for the last three days been arranging furniture, hanging pictures and painting frames. Now the apartment is in good shape, at least superficially, and Jerome and I are delighted and sing yours and the Wiener Werkstätte's praises every day."
Illustrated above, Lot 374, a pair of coal boxes, were said to have stood in the servant’s quarters. They are striking, with their stepped facades in bas relief adding drama to the restrained form. This feature is found in other furniture designed by Hoffmann for the apartment including chairs and a matching wardrobe. In keeping with other related pieces, the boxes were highlighted with a coloured band in grey or blue (now overpainted).
Josef Hoffmann was born in 1870 in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He graduated with honours from the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna in 1895 where he studied under renowned Austrian architect Otto Wagner. Hoffmann then joined the Vienna Succession along with other leading artists, designers and architects including Moser, Wagner, Joseph Maria Olbrich and Gustav Klimt.
In 1903, Hoffmann and Moser established the Wiener Werkstätte, focusing on producing beautifully designed everyday products of the highest quality craftsmanship and materials, including furniture, ceramics, silver and fashion. The Wiener Werkstätte became widely known for elegance and innovation and is regarded as a pioneer of modern design.
Alongside the stylish coal boxes and vase by Hoffmann for Wiener Werkstätte featuring in our April 2022 auction, we are also delighted to offer a further selection of pieces designed by Hoffmann including a beautifully crafted desk for J. & J. Kohn designed circa 1901.
Lyon & Turnbull’s Decorative Arts & Design specialists are renowned for both their knowledge and their sales of artworks conducted from our Scottish auction house based in Edinburgh and via our live online auctions. Our specialists are experts not only on design from 1860 to the present, but also on current market conditions, an essential combination to any successful auction.
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