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The Wiener Werkstätte (literally Viennese Workshops), a similar idea to Ashbee’s Guild of Handicraft, was officially registered on May 19, 1903 as a craftsmen’s co-operative, producing furniture, metalwork, textiles, glassware, and ceramics (the latter mainly in conjunction with the Wiener Keramik factory, founded in 1906 by Bertold Löffler and Michael Powolny).

The Werkstätte’s aims were spelt out in the Arbeitsprogramm, a working proamme published by Hoffmann and Moser in 1905. Aesthetically, the Werkstätte pursued the innovations of Jugendstil as popularised by the Vienna Secession from 1897. From the outset, despite the patronage of Adolphe Stoclet and textile magnate Fritz Wärndorfer, the Werkstätte struggled to achieve economic viability; Moser left, partly for money reasons, in 1907 but Werkstätte continued in existence until 1932.

Items produced by the Wiener Werkstätte were to be found in relative abundance among the 700 lots offered at the two auctions but, despite the centenary celebrations and considerable pre-sale hype, neither sale was exclusively devoted to the Werkstätte.

Although Wiener Kunst plastered a giant WW on their catalogue, their November 27 sale was in fact divided into two distinct sections: one concerning Werkstätte products, the other items classed more generally as Jugendstil. The Dorotheum, meanwhile, insisted that “outstanding handicraft by the Wiener Werkstätte” would be the focus of their sale on November 25, yet also included extensive offerings of both French Art Nouveau and contemporary glass; and a careful reading of each lot description was often needed to discover which of the other items were true products of the Wiener Werkstätte as opposed to pieces of a more general Jugendstil nature.

Perhaps because of their more clear-cut approach, Wiener Kunst were rewarded with greater success. Just over 60 per cent of their 305 lots found takers, with the 142 lots devoted specifically to the Wiener Werkstätte achieving a selling rate of 63 per cent by lot compared to 55 per cent for their more general Jugendstil section. The Dorotheum’s 408-lot sale mustered a more modest take-up of 52 per cent.

Pieces designed by Josef Hoffmann (1870-1956) provided the top price at each sale: €55,000 (£37,930) for a square, geometric silver-gilt 1907 brooch set with lapis lazuli at the Dorotheum; €230,000 (£158,600) at Wiener Kunst for a walnut and mahogany suite (settee, two armchairs and table) made around 1905/6. The auctioneers claimed this to be one of the most important Hoffmann ensembles to come on the market in the last 20 years, so they may have been slightly disappointed with a price at the low end of their estimate bracket.

The suite was was one of several lots made for the Viennese home of Miss Magda Mauthner Markhof. Others were a desk and armchair that sold on low estimate for €180,000 (£124,100), an elegant cupboard, also in walnut and mahogany with bronze mounts, that was bought in against an estimate of €75,000-120,000; and a brass table lamp with mushroom shade that went unsold against an estimate of €70,000-100,000.

The plentiful supply of Hoffmann-designed works at Wiener Kunst wasn’t just limited to furniture. Glass and ceramics included an etched oval glass jardinière, made by Lobmeyr (c.1912), that took €10,000 (£6900) and a late porcelain coffee service (c.1928) that fetched €13,000 (£8965).

But it was Hoffmann’s metalware that was most in evidence at Wiener Kunst, with no fewer than 13 of his designs selling for more than €10,000 (£6900), led by a chased silver teapot, with a carnelian-topped ebony handle, at a mid-estimate €50,000 (£34,500). Dating from 1903, this counts as one of the earliest Werkstätte productions.

A silver samovar (c.1908) with ivory handles made €25,000 (£17,240) and a silvered brass openwork basket (c.1906), 10in (26cm) long and 6in (14.5cm) tall, with wavy outlines to the sides and handle, and featuring the square mesh design so readily associated wth Hoffmann, doubled estimate on €20,000 (£13,800). A brass standing lamp 22in (55cm) tall, with its original shade of patterned fabric hung with blue glass beads, sold over hopes for €11,000 (£7585).

Apart from the sale-topping brooch, Hoffmann pieces proved less successful over at the Dorotheum, where failures included a silver and malachite brooch (c.1905), estimated at €20,000–25,000; a brass tea service with ivory handles (c.1917), estimated at €22,000–
30,000; and a white- lacquered table decorated with carved stylised flowers, designed in 1916 for the Wiener Werkstätte’s city-centre saleroom on Kärntner-strasse (estimated at €25,000–35,000).

But a sheet-brass mirror made by Hoffmann in 1915 for Lloyd Triest, inscribed with various destinations (Egypt, India, China, Japan…) evoking Triest’s one-time status as the major port of the Habsburg Empire, sold over hopes for €7000 (£4830). His wood-mounted vase, 15in (38cm) high, designed (pre-Werkstätte) in 1899 for E. Bakalowits Söhne, sold for €11,000 (£7585).

Work by the Wiener Werkstätte co-founder, Koloman Moser (1868-1918), met a mixed response at both sales. Eight of the 12 Moser lots offered at Wiener Kunst failed to sell, while his white- lacquered and ebonised desk, made in 1905 for the Mauthner Markhof family, to which he was related by marriage, and consigned by Moser’s descendants, was sold for a low-estimate €90,000 (£62,000).

An earlier Moser desk (c.1900), manufactured by J.&J. Kohn, estimated at €18,000–22,000, went unsold at the Dorotheum, but a silver box in the form of an egg, designed by Moser in 1905 and set with semi-precious stones (rose quartz, lapis lazuli and agate), sold near top estimate for €28,000 (£19,300). Only two such eggs are known to have been made by the silversmith Adolf Erbrich.

The third designer to feature prominently at both sales was Dagobert Peche (1887-1923). His 11in (27cm) silver vase, designed for the Werkstätte around 1920, soared past estimate to €75,000 (£51,700) at Wiener Kunst, where his more ornate five-piece coffee-service (1922) fetched €50,000 (£34,500).

A painted chest of drawers, thought to have been designed by Peche just after he was appointed head of the Werkstätte’s new Zurich showroom in 1919, failed to sell – a price of up to €80,000 had been anticipated – but his 6ft 6in (1.98m) tall Schiller tiled stove, adorned with bunches of blue grapes and designed around the same time (c.1920), made a satisfactory €16,000 (£11,030).

Meanwhile his gold-embossed, strawberry-patterned black leather cigarette case, lined inside with black silk, doubled hopes on €1300 (£895) at the Dorotheum. This was designed in 1919 but produced posthumously by the Wiener Werkstätte in 1928. His green and white pear-shaped pottery jar with gold cover, made by Wiener Keramik in 1912, whizzed to €5000 (£3450), five times estimate, at the same sale.

Ceramics provoked a relatively keen response at both sales: two-thirds of the 49 lots offered at Wiener Kunst sold, as did three-fifths of the 63 lots at the Dorotheum. Both firms offered work by some of the Wiener Werkstätte’s female artists (once derogatively labelled the Wiener Weiberkunst). At the Dorotheum, a pair of orange and black glazed ceramic lamp bases in the forms of fishes, by Vally Wieselthier (1895-1945), realised €2800 (£1930); and a bulbous orange, green and brown glazed lamp-stand by Gudrun Baudisch (1907-1982), scored €1500 (£1030). Both designs dated from 1928.

An exuberant ceramic fireplace by Wieselthier, featuring two musicians and a reclining nude, sold on low estimate for €28,000 (£19,300) at Wiener Kunst, who also earned €6000 (£4140) for a sober tea and coffee service by Therese Trethan (c.1905).

A 16in (40cm) Wiener Keramik Herbstputto by Michael Powolny – the figure of Autumn from his well-known design of the four seasons fashioned as a cherub clutching an outsize bunch of grapes – took €10,500 (£7240), while a Serapis Fayence table ornament by Ernst Wahliss, 15in (38cm) tall in the form of a cup supported by a slender woman with gilded hair framed with psychedelic flowers, doubled predictions with €18,000 (£12,400).

In numerical terms, glassware was the leading contributor to both sales: 138 lots at Wiener Kunst, 175 lots at Dorotheum. In each case the take-up – 52 per cent at Wiener Kunst, 45 per cent at Dorotheum – was down on the rest of the sale, a reflection doubtless of the continued softness of the Art Nouveau glass market.

The Wiener Kunst sale included an extensive collection of pieces from the Loetz glassworks in Klostermühle: 110 lots in all, of which precisely half sold – nine of them for €7000 (£5000) or over, led by a virtuoso lamp, 2ft 7in (78cm) tall, with a slender, transparent glass shaft and opaque, coloured glass spherical shade, made for Arndt & Marcus of Berlin around 1905. This sold over estimate for €22,000 (£15,170).

The majority of the Loetz offerings, though, were the pieces more often associated with this factory – opaque glass vessels with iridescent colours and swirling patterns, typified by a vase designed by Franz Hofstäetter in 1900 that scored €10,000 (£6900), or the broad-rimmed vase designed the same year by Hofstäetter that rated €13,000 (£8965).

Pick of the sale’s Wiener Werkstätte glass was a slender-stemmed black-patterned wine-glass made by Lobmeyr to the design of Ludwig Heinrich Jungnickel (c.1910) that sold just over top estimate for €16,000 (£11,030).

An Otto Prutscher carafe (c.1915), 10in (26cm) high, in clear glass with a yellow grid- pattern around the base, led the Austrian glass at the Dorotheum with a double-estimate €9500 (£6550). French Art Nouveau glassware predominated, however, led by a slender Daum Bat vase (c.1900/10) at €30,000 (£20,700). Art Nouveau also yielded the highest price among the Dorotheum’s 91 items of furniture: €12,000 (£8275) for a Majorelle marquetry secretaire, made around 1900.

Perhaps the most unusual offering at either sale was the 21 cast-iron columns designed by Otto Wagner (1841-1918) for Hütteldorf suburban railway station around 1897, and removed in 1966. These surfaced at the Dorotheum with an estimate of €60,000–80,000, but failed to sell.