Axel Salto - Design London Thursday, November 12, 2020 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Private collection, Denmark

  • Catalogue Essay

    Salto's 'Budding' Style

    In his 1949 book Den spirende Stil, Axel Salto writes that the expression of movement or growth is inherent to the ceramic form, explaining, ‘The vase is like a living organism; the body buds, the buds develop, and sprouting, even prickly, vases are the result of this life’ (Axel Salto, Den spirende Stil, Copenhagen, 1949, p. 62). The resulting abstract forms observed from details in nature and expressed in stoneware with rich glazes are then further transformed through the tension of the firing process. Salto reinterpreted classical ceramic forms (such as the vase, bowl, jar), creating organic, asymmetrical designs that exploited the expressive potential of the idiosyncratic glazes, from which the idea for his ‘Budding’ style developed. In the form of high-relief carved buds in the present unique and large vase in the ‘Budding’ style, circa 1940 (lot 93), Salto created ‘obstacles’ in which the glaze flowed downward and around, allowing the ceramic body to re-emerge in the extreme heat of the kiln. Describing the process Salto writes, ‘The glaze runs round the raised points, which break through and push the glaze away so the piece is laid bare. The glaze concentrates and is thinned, and the colour changes with the thickness of the layer. Thereby arises the interplay, peculiar to stoneware, between piece and glaze: the dramatic, eruptive, natural, which for me is the characteristic feature of stoneware’ (Salto, pp. 59-60).

    Salto worked as a designer for The Royal Copenhagen Porcelain Manufactory between 1933-1959, during which time he incorporated the firm’s classical and newly developed glazes into his work, in addition to collaborating with many of the stoneware workshop’s craftsmen and chemical engineers, including Carl Halier and Hans A. Madslund. The present unique and large vase in the ‘Budding’ style features two of Salto’s favourite glazes: Sung, one of Royal Copenhagen’s most celebrated stoneware glazes, which Salto admired for its variation in colour when fired; and Solfatara, created in 1936 by Madslund with the artist Nils Thorsson and named after a volcanic crater near Mount Vesuvius. Describing the dramatic glaze, Salto recalled, ‘As sulphurous as Hekla and as bitter as an oath is this uranium glaze, which ranges from the deep plum-green, the black-blue to the chirping yellow-a find for the sprouting style. Some of the most emotionally charged pieces we produced during my entire time there have to be sought in the Solfatara and in Halier’s old, well-tried Sung glaze.’ (Salto, p. 38) In addition to Sung, the present 'Fruit Form' vase, designed in 1946 (lot 94), features a light blue glaze, illustrating Salto’s use of the organic form to lead the glaze down and concentrate within the modelled surface. Designed in 1955, the two vases in the ‘Budding’ style, (lots 111 and 112) feature a deep red oxblood glaze, revealing white edges across the areas of high relief of Salto’s pinecone-shaped forms.


Unique and large vase in the 'Budding' style

circa 1940
Stoneware, Sung and solfatara glazes with carved design.
28.4 cm (11 1/8 in.) high
Produced by Royal Copenhagen, Denmark. Underside painted SALTO and blue wave mark under the glaze.

£30,000 - 50,000 

Sold for £138,600

Contact Specialist

Madalena Horta E Costa
Head of Sale, Associate Specialist
+44 20 7318 4019



London Auction 12 November 2020