Josef Hoffmann/ Wiener Werkstätte Silver Coffee Service, Vienna, Austria - 1925
Featuring the luxurious curves that Hoffmann favored in the late 1910's and 1920s, this exceptional and rare coffee service consists of a coffee pot, hot milk jug (Milch-Oberskanne)1, and covered sugar bowl.
By using a hot milk jug of equal size to the coffee pot, Hoffmann has created a very rare café-au-lait (Milchkaffee) service. This is the first documented example of this form by the Wiener Werkstätte that we are aware of, although one other was made.2
Their forms are stunning with the bodies flaring outwards at the tops and bottoms. The undulating hammered surfaces of the vertical panels are spectacular. This pattern is very rare - only three services (two coffee and one tea) were ever made in it. 3
Masterful design and execution of the coffee pot spout have the lines close at the opening and flaring outwards gracefully incorporating into the body's design.
The milk jug is a very rare object and used for hot milk. Its shaped, carved ivory handle fits snugly into collars at the top and bottom and is also pinned. As with the coffee pot, these handles are not only unusual and striking, they are functional as they do not allow the heat from the coffee or hot milk to conduct.
Domed covers are executed in the same fashion as the bodies. The cover to the coffee pot is hinged and the covers to the sugar bowl and milk jug are removable. The domed centers rise and terminate with a platform from which an umbrella-like finial rises from the center. As with the handles, an ivory insert is used on the platform of the coffee and milk jug as a beautiful decoration and functional device to keep heat from the finials. Cover detail of Josef Hoffmann/ Wiener Werkstätte Silver Coffee Service, Vienna, Austria - 1925
Finely punched vertical line decoration is used around the rims of the bodies and edges of the covers. The interior of the sugar bowl retains its original gilding.
Architect and designer Josef Hoffmann was a founder of the Wiener Werkstätte, a leader of the Vienna Secessionist movement, and considered one of the early leaders of the modern movement. Today, his works are considered iconic.
The Weiner Werkstätte employed some of the finest artisans in Vienna. With the 'umbrella' finials and the perfectly executed hammer marks on the surfaces, this rare Milchkaffee service displays the exceptional quality of work and attention to detail that are hallmarks of the Wiener Werkstätte's creations.
This service is marked underneath with the manufacturer's mark 'WW/ Wiener Werkstätte' along with the rose mark. It is also marked 'JH' for Josef Hoffman and 900 along with the associated purity mark (also on the covers) for the silver content. The coffee pot measures 8 inches across the handle and spout by 7 inches tall and the service weighs a total 35.60 troy ounces. Condition: Restoration to the coffee pot handle, otherwise, excellent condition.
Christian Witt-Dörring (decorative arts curator at the Neue Galerie, NY and formerly at the MAK, Vienna), research performed at the Wiener Werkstätte archives at the MAK, September 2011
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