Lovesick Pierrot

Pierrot is a stock character of the Commedia dell’Arte who became well known for his improvised performances as the Italian comedy spread across Europe in the 17th century. He is generally portrayed as a sad clown, pining for the love of Columbine who usually breaks his heart and leaves him for Harlequin. Pierrot is a buffoon and is often the butt of jokes and pranks but he is also endearing, trusting and naïve.

Unlike the other characters from the Commedia dell’Arte, Pierrot generally performs unmasked with a whitened face. His distinctive costume includes a loose white blouse with a frilled collar and wide pantaloons. On his head, he wears a wide round-brimmed hat, a conical dunce’s cap, or a black skull cap favored by the great French mime artist Jean-Gaspard Deburau, who epitomized Pierrot in the early 1800s.

During the romantic era of the 19th century, Pierrot inspired French artists such as Antoine Watteau, and embodied the alter-ego of alienated artists, such as Pablo Picasso. Troupes of musicians in Pierrot costumes performed at British beach resorts in the early 20th century and the white-faced clown became a familiar figure in advertising for products as diverse as cigarettes and washing powder. Many European ceramic companies portrayed Pierrot in pottery and porcelain, including Rosenthal of Germany and Royal Doulton of England. They depicted famous performers in the role, such as Enrico Caruso, or party going revelers of the Art Deco era masquerading as Pierrot and Pierrette. Our newly acquired collection of European porcelain Pierrot clowns will be featured in our next exhibition opening in the Fall. I will also include lots of entertaining characters from the Italian Commedia dell’ Arte and the Venetian Carnival.

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Richard Garbe (1876-1957)

The solar eclipse on August 21st had us casting around the WMODA collection for astronomical connections. This striking Royal Doulton flask in the Art Deco Gallery depicts Endymion, who was the first person to observe the movements of the moon, according to Pliny the Elder. In Greek mythology, this handsome astronomer was the lover of Selene the moon, who is portrayed arousing him from his slumbers. The other side of this unique design by Richard Garbe features Aurora, goddess of the dawn, who announces the arrival of the sun each day.

Royal Doulton’s first limited edition figures in the 1930s were based on ivory and bronze sculptures exhibited at the Royal Academy in London and other venues by Richard Garbe, a distinguished Professor at the Royal College of Art. Garbe learned the art of ivory carving from his father, a Prussian ivory carver, and helped to revive this style of sculpture in Britain.

One of Garbe’s most complex works in ivory is Primavera now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, and this carving inspired the Royal Doulton figure of Spring for which Doulton developed a special ivory porcelain body. An edition of 100 of this exquisite figure was introduced in 1934 but like most of Garbe’s work for Royal Doulton, few have survived.

Richard Garbe favored subjects from classical mythology, such as Endymion the lover of Selene the moon. His sculpture of West Wind depicts the Greek god Zephyr, the gentlest of the four winds which heralds Spring and his Spirit of the Wind features a wind-swept Greek goddess in diaphanous robes. Garbe also modeled porcelain masks which were a popular form of wall decoration in the Art Deco era. His study of Lachesis, was inspired by one of the three fates in Greek religion who determines the destiny or thread of life. The Royal Doulton masks of Fate in ivory, green and gold glazes were based on a bronze original.

One of the most spectacular sculptures in the Art Deco gallery at WMODA is the bust of the composer Ludwig van Beethoven with his muses, which was reproduced in terracotta and ivory stoneware at the Royal Doulton factory. Garbe also designed a monumental jardinière for Doulton and a garden statue of a Sea Lion in salt-glaze stoneware which was based on his 1929 stone carving in the Tate Gallery in London. A smaller version of the Sea Lion is displayed at WMODA.

Garbe was a pupil of the Central School of Arts and Crafts when it first opened in 1896 and returned to teach there before being appointed Professor of Sculpture at the Royal College of Art in 1929. He worked with the Doulton factories in Lambeth and Stoke-on-Trent between 1933 and 1939 and designed sculptures for limited reproduction in salt-glazed stoneware and porcelain. Later, Garbe worked for the Wedgwood factory and three of his designs were put into production in 1941.

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A Tale of Two Vases

by Louise Irvine

The world’s largest Doulton vase is on display at WMODA. It stands 6 feet 4 inches tall and was commissioned by the Gaekwar of Baroda, an Indian prince who was the sixth richest man in the world in the 1890s. He came regularly to London to shop and was a great admirer of Doulton’s Faience wares made at their Lambeth studio. The prince ordered several Doulton masterpieces for his new palace in Baroda, two of which are on display at WMODA.

The monumental Doulton vase features a profusion of exotic flowers and palms painted in golden tones by Miss Florence Lewis, the head artist in Doulton’s Faience painting department. When the Gaekwar’s commission vase came out of the kiln, it was found to have some slight firing flaws in the glaze so Sir Henry Doulton shipped it instead to the 1893 Chicago World Fair where it was the crowning glory of their exhibit. A second vase was made for the Maharaja Sayakirao Gaekwad III, which is believed to be the one now at WMODA.

A World-Record Vase

It is not clear whether the Gaekwar’s commission ever made it to India as research requests to the Baroda archives have drawn a blank so far. When his new Laxmi Vilas palace was completed in the 1890s, it was the largest private dwelling ever built and was four times the size of Buckingham Palace. The gigantic Doulton vase came up for auction at Christie’s of London in 1986 and caused a sensation when it was sold to an anonymous bidder for the world-record price of £31,668. Recently, we discovered from Skinner’s auctioneer Stuart Slavid that it was purchased by the Warner LeRoy family, who owned the Tavern on the Green in Central Park, NY. Does anyone have a photo of the vase in this setting before it was sold in 2009? The vase was auctioned again at Skinner’s in Boston in 2011 and acquired by Arthur Wiener. For some years, it was displayed in his Hamptons home before coming to WMODA where it astonishes visitors in the reception area.

An Exhibition Triumph

The original vase, that was shipped to the 1893 Chicago World Fair, contributed greatly to Doulton’s phenomenal exhibition success. Chicago was a triumph for Sir Henry Doulton, who challenged his artists: “Be first or not at all, for to be second is to be nowhere”. They certainly marked his words with their exhibits which won seven awards, more than any other potter. The centerpiece was sold to the ladies of the North Western University Guild at the end of the exhibition. The Guild was founded in 1892 to promote art in the university and the community and the founding ladies raised money to beautify the campus. Their impressive pottery and porcelain collection was started with treasures from the World Fair and they negotiated some great bargains from the overseas exhibitors so that they did not have to pack and ship their pieces home.  It is recorded that the ladies visited the Doulton pavilion 23 times throughout the exposition and that the representative, Mr. Ford, was no less charming on their last visit as on the first! The monumental Doulton vase was priced at $6,000, a staggering sum at the time, but the shrewd ladies acquired it for just $500 plus duty.

A Display of Technical Virtuosity

For many years, the pride of the Guild’s collection was displayed in their lounge at the Lunt Library but it was crated up when the university needed more space in 1915. Together with other World’s Fair acquisitions, the vase was donated to the Museum of Science and Industry in 1940 where it languished in their basement for many years. At the museum’s 50th anniversary in 1983, visitors could view parts of the vase highlighting the processes involved in creating this monumental manufacturing feat, which weighs in the region of 500 pounds.  The baluster shaped vase was wheel-thrown in three parts: the neck,  the body, which is 2 feet 6 inches in diameter with two handles attached at the shoulders, and the foot.  Negotiations to loan the vase back to the Guild took place in time to celebrate their 95th anniversary and I had the honor of unveiling the vase at a gala event in 1987.  The Chicago vase is now back at the Museum of Science and Industry where it can be seen today.

A Remarkable Artist

Miss Florence Lewis, the painter of the twin vases, was one of Doulton’s most accomplished artists. She worked at the Minton Art Pottery Studio in London before joining Doulton’s new Art Pottery in Lambeth around 1874. Miss Lewis became supervisor of Doulton’s Faience department in 1880, training the younger woman artists, and in 1883 she wrote a book about china painting for amateur and professional students. Her work was admired by Queen Victoria, who bought a tea service decorated with primroses in 1887. She won many medals and accolades during her career including a silver medal at the International Health Exhibition of 1884 and the Princess Alice prize at the Howell and James exhibition of 1879 for a plaque purchased by the Empress of Germany. John Sparkes, Principal of the Lambeth School of Art said of her work: “She has a remarkable power of design and a skill in painting that is seldom surpassed. Her designs are of flowers, foliage and birds and whether she is working out a large design or a small tile her energy and power are equally apparent.”

Royal Magnificence

The talents of Miss Lewis can be appreciated also in a second vase made for the Gaekwar, which is on display in the Royal Doulton Gallery at WMODA. This vase, which stands 4 feet 6 inches tall, was designed by Mark Marshall and painted with tropical flowers by Florence Lewis. The Doulton Lambeth factory also made a salt-glazed stoneware playing fountain for the gardens of the Gaekwar’s palace and painted several other Faience vases and jardinières. One day, we hope to discover more about the history of all these works of art originally destined for India.

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A Visit to Ardmore

The highlight of my travels to South Africa is always a visit to Ardmore Ceramic Art in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. Although I have been there many times, I never cease to be enthralled by the wit and ingenuity of Fée and the Ardmore artists in this magical place.  Visiting the studio has been described as tumbling into a Henri Rousseau painting alive with African birds, beasts, and patterns. I also feel a bit like Alice falling down the rabbit hole into a Wonderland filled with weird creatures and circumstances. Majestic elephants dance daintily on their hind legs and mischievous monkeys ride hippos through crocodile infested swamps – Ardmore makes you smile at every turn.

The Ardmore studio is located at the confluence of two rivers in a lush pastoral landscape. Even in mid-winter, the African sun beats down and bakes the clay models straight from the sculptors’ studio before they are fired in the kiln. Fée delights in showing off all the new work created by the Ardmore sculptors and painters. During my visit, some of the painters were putting the finishing touches to an exhibition inspired by the Okavango Delta, one of the natural wonders of Africa. Others were working on some “Big Five” animal pieces for exhibition in America. The Big Five animals in Africa are the lion, elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros. Big-game hunters coined the name to describe the five most difficult and dangerous animals in Africa to hunt on foot. Subsequently, the term was adopted by African tour operators to highlight the animals to be seen on wildlife safaris. Over the years, the Ardmore artists have incorporated the Big Five into many of their designs. Here is Jabu Nene pictured with her latest Big Five masterpiece in honor of National Women’s Day in South Africa which is celebrated on August 9th.

Women’s Day is an annual public holiday which commemorates the 1956 march of 20,000 South African women against the country’s pass laws during the apartheid era. The women left bundles of petitions at the office doors of the Prime Minister in Pretoria and sang a protest song composed in honor of the occasion. In the years since the march, the catch phrase of the protest song “you strike a woman, you strike a rock” has come to represent women’s courage and strength in South Africa. Women play a major role at Ardmore. As well as the founder Fee Halsted, and her daughters Catherine and Megan, there are around 50 talented female artists working in the studio today.

Catherine showed me how the designs for the Zambesi fabric collection are derived from Ardmore ceramics by adapting vivacious patterns created by leading artists, such as Punch Shabalala. The Monkey Bean and Lovebird Leopard motifs have been transformed into elegant scatter cushions and there’s also a spectacular sofa with a cheeky monkey teasing a haughty leopard. I saw also how the fabulous new Ardmore wall paper designs for Cole & Son of England are now inspiring new ceramic masterpieces, such as Safari Dance and Leopard Walk. Lee Jofa, the distributors of Ardmore wallpapers in the United States, have donated a sample book of their wall coverings to WMODA, which you can browse while enjoying our exhibition of Ardmore ceramic art.

Catherine also told me all about her latest ventures with Hermès of Paris, who are launching a new silk scarf design this year called Flowers of Africa.  Ardmore is now in the swim of things at Hermès with their new collection of beachwear featuring the Savana Dance pattern. Look out for all the Ardmore swimwear and beach towels at Hermès boutiques and get ready for our Cultural Cruise to Cuba on board the Azamara Quest next March when Fée Halsted will be our special guest lecturer. Fée will also be one of our star artists at the 2018 International Ceramics and Glass Fair, which will be held at the Gallery of Amazing Things in conjunction with WMODA from March 2-8, 2018.

My visit also coincided with the Ardmore Winter School, which is now in its third year and draws young men and women from around Africa who are interested in pursuing a career in ceramic art. Over a period of three months, twenty students are taught clay sculpting and painting by Fée and the experienced Ardmore artist Wiseman Ndlovu. It is so rewarding to see the excitement and enthusiasm of these aspiring artists as they explore the medium of clay. For most it is the first time they have tried working with the material and their aptitude and potential are assessed as they develop the skills necessary to work at Ardmore. At the end of the course, the best students are invited to work at the studio under the mentorship of the senior artists. Fée has great ambitions for the Winter School and is raising money to build bigger and better facilities to accommodate more students. Let us know if you would like to help Fée create the next generation of Ardmore artists. Ardmore is an investment in art and happiness.

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Chihuly Chandeliers

The centerpiece of the Chihuly exhibition and WMODA fund-raising event in the Hamptons on August 20th is this spectacular Turquoise Frost chandelier which hung originally at Lismore Castle in Ireland. Chihuly fully developed his Chandeliers concept in 1995 when he took his team to work at the Waterford factory, which is famous for its crystal chandeliers.

Chihuly produced his first Chandelier in 1992 for the Seattle Art Museum. Initially, the glass components resembled large balloons suspended from a metal frame but soon they became amorphous explosions in glass which look like living organisms with writhing tendrils. For his ambitious Chihuly over Venice project in 1995, extravagant glass chandeliers were hung above the canals and piazzas of the Italian city. That same year, Chihuly began exploring large scale installations in gardens and conservatories, notably at the formal Jacobean gardens of Lismore Castle, the Irish home of the Duke of Devonshire, and the National Botanic Gardens near Dublin.

Strictly speaking, the extravagant glass sculptures which Chihuly pioneered for Lismore Castle and Venice are not really chandeliers as they are not sources of light. For most of the day, natural light shines down onto the glass structures creating an interplay of light and color with translucency and transparency transcending function. One of Chihuly’s most famous hanging installations is the phenomenal blue and gold chandelier in the foyer of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, which is being assembled in this video.

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Brilliant Glass from Brazil

We are delighted to feature the glass art of Eduardo and Elizabeth Prado in our Touch of Glass exhibition at WMODA. This talented couple recently moved to the USA from their native Brazil where they were pioneers of the studio glass movement. They now share a studio in Fort Lauderdale and Eduardo works also at the Benzaiten Center for the Creative Arts in Lake Worth.

Eduardo is an architect by training and Elizabeth studied art. They met in London, where they first discovered glass art, and their marriage united them in a mutual love of the medium. Since the 1980s, they have traveled the world visiting master glass artists and studying different techniques, including blown glass, pate-de-verre, fusing and casting.

Today, they both use very different processes to create their glass art, which has been exhibited internationally and received accolades from the Corning Museum of Glass. Elizabeth fuses tiny droplets of Bullseye glass to create sparkling textures in luminous bowl forms. Eduardo calls his work Cocooned Thoughts. Embedded in layers of glass are his paintings and iconic images of popular culture. Selected works by Eduardo and Elizabeth are for sale to benefit the educational programs at WMODA.

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Pictures in Pottery

One of the most popular artworks at WMODA is Sympathy by the Minton pottery, which depicts a little girl being comforted by her dog as she takes some time out on the naughty step. The pottery plaque hangs in the Art Pottery gallery in a striking aesthetic style ebonized and gilded frame.

The Minton pottery picture was sold originally by Thomas Goode & Co, purveyors of luxury goods in Mayfair, London since 1827.  It was inspired by Briton Rivière’s oil painting entitled Sympathy, which was shown at the Royal Academy in 1878. Rivière (1840-1920) achieved immense popularity with the Victorian public for his anecdotal pictures of animals, which occupied most of his career.

Painting on pottery became a very fashionable leisure activity in the 1870s and amateurs worked alongside professional artists as decorators of plaques, tiles, and flasks. In 1871, Minton’s of Stoke set up an Art Pottery Studio in London where young ladies were employed as decorators. They interpreted designs by famous artists of the period and produced original paintings of suitable subjects, such as flowers, fruit, birds, and children.  The studio was destroyed by fire in 1875 but Minton’s continued to decorate plaques and tiles in Stoke-on-Trent.

Leading London china shops, such as Mortlock, Howell and James, and Phillips, held pottery painting classes for amateur artists, predominantly young women.  Howell and James also opened a new art pottery gallery in 1876 to show-case their annual exhibitions of Painting on Pottery and Porcelain. More than 1,000 works were exhibited at their 1878 exhibition, which attracted more than 10,000 visitors in two months.

The vogue for pottery painting became so intense that the ceramic artists were parodied in the press. George du Maurier’s cartoons for Punch magazine satirized the Aesthetic Movement of the late 19th century, which also encouraged pottery collecting. Pottery plaques or chargers were very popular as wall hangings in the Victorian parlor as they were practical as well as ornamental. Coal fires and oil lighting made 19th century interiors rather grimy and underglaze pottery paintings could be cleaned easily.

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Swimwear for Summer

Rainy days in Florida bring visitors flocking to WMODA. When you can’t sunbathe in your new swimsuit you can enjoy the beach fashions of your parents and grandparents in our Flair for Fashion exhibition. This popular show will close at the end of the summer so don’t take a rain check!

Sun bathing at the seaside became a fashionable leisure activity in the 1920s and a glowing bronzed skin was in vogue after centuries of cultivating a pale complexion. Victorian women appreciated the health benefits of sea bathing but they immersed themselves in the water, covered from head to toe. Strict etiquette prompted the use of horse-drawn bathing machines – four wheeled carriages, which were rolled into the surf to protect the modesty of the bathers. Bloomers, which were popularized for health reasons by Amelia Bloomer in the mid-19th century, were modified for bathing and worn with tunics. However, they were made from a heavy flannel material that weighed down the wearer.

Mixed bathing became socially acceptable in the early 20th century and the younger generation abandoned their mother’s voluminous bathing dresses and sported new figure-hugging swim suits. When these one-piece costumes first appeared in the early 1900s, they caused outrage. In 1907, Annette Kellerman, the first woman to swim the English Channel, was arrested in Boston for her indecent attire. In 1915, Jantsen, the Portland Knitting Company, introduced swimming suits made of wool and their sleek red diving girl logo conjured up the spirit of the jazz age.

Royal Doulton’s leading sculptor, Leslie Harradine, lived through the roaring twenties and glamorous thirties, portraying sun seekers lounging at the lido in revealing bathing suits and beach pajamas, which shocked the older generation. Pajamas, which are now worn only at bedtime, were fashionable seaside wear in the 1920s. The famous Venice Lido was advertised in 1927 as “the beach of sunshine and pyjamas”. Derived from the Hindi “paejama” meaning “leg covering”, pajamas had been established nightwear for men since the Victorian era but it was very adventurous for women to wear trousers of any kind until the 1920s.

The bikini made its appearance in 1946, supposedly named after the atomic tests at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. The new two-piece swimsuit was designed to have an explosive effect on the beach and didn’t become widespread until the swinging sixties. There’s nothing new under the sun, as they say. Sicilian women were wearing bikinis in the 4th century as can be seen in the mosaics at the Villa Roma de Casale. We have no porcelain figurines wearing bikinis at WMODA although we have had glass bikini tops by Chelsea Rousso modeled during our events. Also, Ardmore fans will be interested to know that Hermès of Paris now makes bikinis and swimwear with Ardmore designs. Get into the swim at WMODA this summer!

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Proud as a Peacock

This gorgeous porcelain peacock by Nymphenburg is one of the latest acquisitions at WMODA. In the late 19th century, the peacock became an icon of the Aesthetic movement, which emphasized the importance of art above everything else in daily life. “Art for art’s sake” was the credo of the aesthetes and their goal was to produce and experience works of great beauty. The beautiful peacock was their muse and continued as a favored motif into the Art Nouveau era.

The majestic Nymphenburg peacock at WMODA was modeled by Theodor Karner in 1906 when he was just 21 years old. It was one of his first works for this Munich porcelain manufactory where he established his reputation as a brilliant animal sculptor. Karner went on to work for the Rosenthal and the Allach factories where he became art director. The Nymphenburg peacock seems to strut out of Paradise with its marvelous train of feathers and glorifies a dazzling tradition of the peacock in art.

The spectacular Peacock Room by James McNeill Whistler, a treasure of the Freer Gallery in Washington, is the epitome of the Aesthetic interior of the 1870s. Whistler painted the room in shimmering shades of blue and gold as a setting for his painting The Princess from the Land of Porcelain. The room was created for a display of blue and white Chinese porcelain, which was much collected at the time. The murals became famous because of the row between the artist and his parsimonious patron who are depicted as fighting peacocks on one of the panels entitled “Art and Money; or the Story of the Room.”

The iridescent feathers of the peacock, previously thought to bring bad luck, vied with sunflowers and lilies as the most popular adornment of the “House Beautiful” during the Aesthetic period. The notorious Oscar Wilde decorated his rooms with peacock feathers, blue and white china, and other objets d’art. He famously quipped, “I find it harder and harder every day to live up to my blue china.” Aesthetes like Wilde were ridiculed in satirical cartoons and popular literature. In the ballad of the Decorative Sisters from 1881, the intense young ladies “would start with joy ecstatic to behold a peacock feather.”  Obviously, they did not believe the superstition that bringing peacock feathers into the house destines an unmarried woman to become an old maid.

In their pursuit of beauty, artists and designers of the late 19th century became intoxicated by the colors and splendor of the peacock. Aubrey Beardsley emphasized the decadent aspect of the bird’s beauty in his illustrations for Oscar Wilde’s play Salome. Arts & Crafts furniture was inlaid with exotic peacock designs, such as the Shapland & Petter cabinets at WMODA. William Morris designed curtain material featuring peacocks and dragons and Liberty’s, the famous London department store, produced a peacock feather furnishing fabric. Tiffany’s Favrile blown glass recreated the iridescence of the peacock’s plumage and his opalescent leaded glass windows and lamp shades incorporated peacock motifs in rainbow hues.  René Lalique sculpted the head of a peacock in glass as a car radiator cap and peacock feathers inspired his glass vases, bowls, and jewelry.

Many ceramic artists have found beauty in peacocks. They created exquisite sculptures of the bird and used the iconic eyes of the feathers as decorative motifs on vases and plaques. The shimmering blue-green hues of the peacock became a popular color combination in ceramic art and the iridescent sheen was translated into lustrous glazes. As can be seen at WMODA, William de Morgan depicted the peacock in his tile designs and William Moorcroft adapted the tail feathers for his tube-lined Florian Ware. Raised outlines were well suited to creating the sinuous, flowing lines of Art Nouveau style peacocks and can be seen to great effect on the Burmantofts jardinière and stand at WMODA. Minton’s Secessionist ware also featured peacocks boldly outlined in relief. Perhaps the most famous pottery peacock was modeled by Minton artist, Paul Colomera, for their Majolica glazes and stands over four feet tall. Twelve of these magnificent birds were produced during the 1870s and some are on show in museum collections. A miniature prototype model of the famous Minton peacock is in the WMODA collection.

Royal Doulton used a peacock design on the cover of their catalog for the 1900 Paris exhibition and the bird can be seen preening and strutting on stunning vases from the Lambeth and Burslem studios. Flying peacocks were very popular on Royal Doulton Sung Wares in the 1920s where the bird’s vivid blue-green plumage is very dramatic against the lustrous rouge flambé glazes. Peacocks have also appeared in Royal Doulton’s figure collection. Juno and the Peacock by Robert Jefferson was inspired by the myths of Greece and Rome. Peacock mythology and fantasy have also combined in Lladro’s exceptional Winged Goddess, part of their prestigious High Porcelain collection. The WMODA collection makes us as proud as peacocks so come and share it with us soon.

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A Passion for Porcelain

The incredible Farim 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.

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