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A Passion for Porcelain

The incredible Farin collection of European porcelain is now at WMODA and highlights will be going on display over the next few months. During our research, we were fascinated by the number of Rosenthal figures inspired by German avant-garde dancers in the early 20th century.

The decadent cabaret life in Weimer Berlin was brilliantly conveyed by the expressionist artist Walter Schnackenberg, who designed posters and theatrical costumes. The dancers Lo Hesse and Joachim von Seewitz benefited especially from his brilliant wardrobe designs and their publicity postcards inspired several porcelain sculptures by Constantin Holzer-Defanti for Rosenthal.

Lo Hesse and Joachim von Seewitz danced in Munich and Berlin between 1916 and 1920 and the couple was praised for their “orgy of beauty” and their “inclination toward the bizarre”.  Seewitz was self-taught as a dancer but impressed critics with the serpentine undulations and pure fluidity of his movements. Lo Hesse was once accused of being just a mannequin for her refined masquerade wardrobe but her exotic Schnackenberg costumes conjured up some stunning porcelain figures by Holzer-Defanti, such as Humoresque, Masquerade and Tschaoikum with its patterns and postures of the mysterious East.

Lena Amsel moved from Poland to Germany after the outbreak of the First World War. She became a dancer in the Berlin cabaret scene at the age of 17 and then appeared in several silent films. She adopted the scandalous, bohemian life-style shared by the notorious Anita Berber, which she continued in the demimonde of Paris. She was married four times and had countless lovers in her short life which ended when she crashed her Bugatti in a race against the artist André Derain.

Anita Berber was known as “Berlin’s Naked Goddess” and the “Priestess of Depravity”. She became famous for her erotic cabaret performances, which ended abruptly when she smashed an empty champagne bottle over a patron’s head! Miss Berber’s glorious costume was designed by Schnackenberg and inspired Rosenthal’s Holzer Defanti to model his Korean Dancer. The figure of Anita by Dorothea Charol was based also on Miss Berber’s sensual dances.  She died at the age of 29 in 1928.