However, the Riga-based firm lasted only until 1928, meaning its products are rare and desirable visitors to salerooms. When a Baltars plate dating from 1928 came up at West Sussex auction house Bellmans on September 5 the £300-500 estimate was left far behind as the hammer fell at £10,000 (plus 25% buyer’s premium).
Painted on a Czechoslovakian porcelain blank with female skiers inside a gilt rim, it measured 10in (25cm) in diameter and was signed in blue enamel E. Udcis-Udyas [?], stud. Baltars 1928.
Bellmans said the plate was “consigned by a private vendor who is local to us here in West Sussex. The buyer was from Latvia. It seems like this had specific Latvian interest as the final bidding was between two buyers in Latvia.”
Baltars – from the Latin ars Baltica, Baltic art – became an expression of Latvian national pride and cultural identity combined with Art Deco and Cubist and Constructivist inspired design, as tradition and modernism complemented each other.
The quality is underlined by the fact it won three gold or bronze medals at the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris (where the term Art Deco is derived from).
Many Baltars products reflected folk tradition, national costumes and festive occasions such as dances.
In November 2022 another Baltars plate offered at London saleroom Sloane Street Auctions depicted a wedding. This plate was inscribed to verso Baltars Riga 1928 R. Suta.
Created by Romans Suta (1896- 1944), a driving force of Baltars ceramic painting along with his wife, painter Aleksandra Belcova (1892-1981), and graphic artist Sigismunds Vidbergs (1890-1970), it took £15,000 – three times the mid estimate (plus 25% buyer’s premium).