Wiener Werkstätte

Franz von ZülowDie 12 Monate [The Twelve Months]. Originallithographien.

(Vienna), Druck und Verlag der Wiener Werkstätte, (circa 1912).

4to, in sheets loose as issued in publisher’s black cloth portfolio illustrated with an original colour lithograph by the artist mounted on each side, abstract hand-painted paper doublures by the same hand, (in morocco-backed chemise by Atelier Devauchelle). Suite of 13 original colour lithographs by Franz von Zülow, including 1 plate depicting the four seasons and 12 plates for the months of the year. Complete.

First Edition, printed in very small number.

Superb colourful and very imaginative lithographs with multiple subjects incorporating themes of popular culture and folk art, astrological signs, animals and varied ornaments. The portfolio was designed for the young audience and sold as “children’s book” at the Werkstätte.

Franz von Zülow (1883-1963), important Austrian painter, designer, graphic artist and muralist, member of the Secession mouvement and the Wiener Werkstätte.

The artist completed an apprenticeship as an illustrator at the Graphische Lehr-und Versuchsanstalt [Graphic Teaching and Testing Institute] in Vienna between 1901 and 1903 and briefly attended courses at the Academy of Fine Arts, where he learnt the art of drawing from Christian Griepenkerl. He went on to study under Koloman Moser, Carl Otto Czeschka and A. von Stark at the Kunstgewerbeschule until 1906. He worked at the Wiener Werkstätte from 1905 onwards and joined the Vienna Secession in 1908; he exhibited at the International Art Exhibition in Rome in 1911. In 1912, he was the recipient of the Prince of Liechtenstein’s travel stipend and spent time in Germany, France, and England.  From 1920 to 1922 he was an instructor at the ceramics study workshop in Gmunden, Austria. In 1925, he was awarded a Gold Medal at the Paris Exposition for a vase produced by the Wiener Porzellanmanufaktur at Augarten (Cooper-Hewitt). Inspired by the artistic concepts established by the Vienna Secession and the Wiener Werkstätte, and under the lifelong influence of rural impressions, he gave rise to a comprehensive oeuvre characterized by an unmistakably individual style. It was quite early on that, in addition to painting and graphic art, he discovered the broad field of arts and crafts. Alongside watercolours and oil paintings, he created designs for fabrics, ceramics, carpets, painted furniture, decorative household objects, tapestries, frescos, etc. His style is most clearly evident in wallpaper, pictorial broadsheets, and wall decorations. New graphic techniques and interior decorating concepts were just as much the products of Franz von Zülow’s enthusiasm for experimentation as they were of is interest in foreign cultures, above all that of Japan, which influenced him as well as many of his colleagues. 1903 saw him adapt the Asian technique of katagami (stencil-based textile dying) to create a printing process that, in 1907, he had patented as “paper-cut printing”. Throughout his creative career, which was characterized above all by graphic art, Zülow also repeatedly created works for children, including theater scenery, diorama-like carousel picture books, paper toys and puppet theatres. Folkloristic style is frequently evident in many of his decorative pieces. His application of colour is always expressive, lending his pictures an enduringly unique quality.

The Wiener Werkstätte (Viennese Workshops, 1903-1932) was one of the longest-lived design movements of the twentieth century and a key organization for the development of modernism. Centered in the Austrian capital, it stood at the doorway between traditional methods of manufacture and a distinctly avant-garde aesthetic. The Wiener Werkstätte’s emphasis on complete artistic freedom resulted in a prodigious output of designs, and this, along with an army of skilled craftsmen and a complex network of production and distribution made it the standard for Austrian design between the dawn of the twentieth century and the depths of the Great Depression. Led by the unassuming architect Josef Hoffmann and his associates such as Dagobert Peche and Koloman Moser, the Wiener Werkstätte drew from movements such as the Arts & Crafts and Art Nouveau as well as from traditional folk art, and forecasted the flowering of Art Deco and the International Style in the interwar period. Its demise in the midst of repeated financial crises demonstrates the ultimate inability of artistic enterprises to completely free themselves from the economic concerns of the age.

Two plates with left margin a bit short, an extremely fresh and fine copy of a rare and desirable work produced at the celebrated Wiener Werkstätte.

Ref. Catalogue of the Cotsen Children’s Library, 12371 / Heller, Die Bunte Welt, 455 / Michael Pabst, L’Art graphique à Vienne autour de 1900, pp. 341-342 / Werner J. Schweiger , Wiener Werkstätte, p. 185 / MAK Wien / Cooper-Hewitt Museum / Dorotheum / The Art Story

Price: 6.000,00 euros

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