Box (Austria), ca. 1915
Austrian designer and architect Josef Hoffmann was a major influence in the early twentieth-century modern movement and produced more work in metal than in any other media. As a cofounder of the Wiener Werkstätte in 1903, Hoffmann aimed to place decorative arts on the level of painting and sculpture in the public mind. Additionally, the Werkstätte, whose philosophies were based on the British Arts and Crafts movement, strove to produce high-quality, hand-crafted pieces for everyday use. Werkstätte members believed an object’s form and function should derive from materials used, have apparent construction techniques, lack historical associations—a radical break from the revival styles popular at the time—and give the worker joy in creating. This box showcases an additional aspect of Hoffmann’s design thinking: that design and craftsmanship, not materials, should determine an object’s value. Here, the more expensive metal, silver, is seen only on the inside while brass is visible on the exterior. The stylized leaf pattern and abstract geometric design in repousse—a technique where the craftsperson hammered in the design from the underside—are typical of his cubist influences.
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Its dimensions are
8 x 11.4 x 17 cm (3 1/8 x 4 1/2 x 6 11/16 in. )
It has the following markings
On bottom: "HJ", "WIENERWERKSTATTE", "MADE IN AUSTRIA"
Cite this object as
Box (Austria), ca. 1915; Produced by Wiener Werkstätte (Austria); brass, silver; 8 x 11.4 x 17 cm (3 1/8 x 4 1/2 x 6 11/16 in. ); 1978-148-1-a,b