This inkwell’s lozenge form speaks to the geometrical emphasis found in the early designs of the Wiener Werkstätte (1903-1932). In 1900, Hoffmann’s style dramatically changed: his designs shifted away from the curvilinear shapes he had used during his years with the Vienna Secession in the late 1800s to a more abstract and geometrical mode. His reductive style was influenced by the rectilinear designs of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Margaret Macdonald, who both exhibited work in Vienna at the eighth exhibition held at the Secession in 1900. This inkwell shows no surface decoration and the bold geometrical outline, mirrored in the tray edge and the central vessel, carry the visual interest, along with the sheen of the brass material. Hoffmann and others at the Wiener Werkstätte were also greatly influenced by Japanese art. Here the form of the inkwell is octagonal, perhaps a nod to Japanese tablewares that often took an octagonal outline.
Hoffmann’s output as a designer was wide-ranging and his designs for metal surpass those for other mediums. Beginning in 1905–06, Hoffmann began to use more stylized floral ornamentation and around 1915, his style began to incorporate more Baroque forms. Hoffmann’s familiarity with the early nineteenth-century neoclassical style of the Biedermeier era, in addition to studying classical architecture in Italy during the nineteenth century, shows the diversity of influences on his work. This inkwell represents a period of great stylistic change for Hoffmann; from 1904 to 1915, he was designing both ornamental and minimal geometric metal wares.
This object was
George R. Kravis II.
It is credited
Gift of George R. Kravis II.
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Its dimensions are
H x W x D: 11.2 × 31 × 18 cm (4 7/16 × 12 3/16 × 7 1/16 in.)
It has the following markings
WEINER/WERK/STATTE in rectangle
Cite this object as
Inkwell; Designed by Josef Hoffmann (Austrian, b. Moravia, 1870–1956); brass, glass; H x W x D: 11.2 × 31 × 18 cm (4 7/16 × 12 3/16 × 7 1/16 in.); Gift of George R. Kravis II; 2018-22-55
This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Energizing the Everyday: Gifts From the George R. Kravis II Collection.