Jewelry of the Wiener Werkstätte

BEVERLY HILLS, NY -- Established in the Austrian capital of Vienna, the Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna Workshops) was an avant-garde collective that emphasized complete artistic freedom and new methods of manufacturing.

Wiener Werkstätte was born out of the Vienna Secession, an Art Nouveau adjacent multidisciplinary art movement founded in 1897 by notable talent including Gustav Klimt and Josef Hoffman.

In 1903 Josef Hoffman, together with several colleagues, left the Vienna Secession to form Wiener Werkstätte. They created a unique, collaborative space with a new aesthetic vision for talented artisans and craftsmen across many specialties – jewelry, furniture, ceramics, textiles, graphics and more.

Makers at the Wiener Werkstätte focused on producing modern decorative arts, a move away from the traditional styles of 18th century Vienna. They took inspiration from the Arts & Crafts and Art Nouveau movements as well as folk art. Supported by wealthy patrons, the Wiener Werkstätte was able to focus on its artistic ethos rather than the financial success of mass-produced objects.

Among the most iconic and recognizable jewelry designs from the Wiener Werkstätte were square, silver, richly colored gilt gold and hardstone brooches. The earlier models date to 1904. Josef Hoffman’s jewels were distinctive, strong on their design and highlighted with bold colorful hardstones. These varied, unique creations were far different from the diamond encrusted Belle Epoque garland jewels popular at that time. 

Images of Josef Hoffman’s brooches grace the covers of several books on Wiener Werkstätte which speaks to their importance.

This brooch example was designed by Josef Hoffman and executed by Karl Ponocny. The reverse of the brooch bears the “WW” hallmark of Wiener Werkstätte, as well as the makers marks of both Hoffman and Ponocny.

The workshop actively produced jewelry and craft-based decorative arts into the Great Depression until the realities of financial concerns finally led to the reluctant shuttering of the workshop. Fortunately, Wiener Werkstätte pieces occasionally surface on the open market for the lucky collector.

Important Jewelry

Auction October 21, 2021 at Noon
Palm Beach Preview: Oct 5-7, 208 Brazilian Ave, Palm Beach, FL, [email protected]
New York Exhibition: Oct 16-18

Lot 51
Wiener Werkstätte Arts and Crafts Silver, Gold, Malachite and Lapis Brooch
With maker's marks for the Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna Workshop), Josef Hoffman and Karl Ponocny, circa 1907.
Property from an Important Jewel Collector
Est. $5,000-7,000

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