Koloman Moser - Design New York Wednesday, December 9, 2020 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Private collection, Germany
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Literature

    J.A. Lux, ed., Das Interieur IV, Vienna, 1903, pp. 87, 201
    Renée Price, ed., New Worlds: German and Austrian Art 1890-1940, New York, 2001, p. 449
    Sandra Tretter, ed., Koloman Moser 1868-1918, Vienna, 2007, p. 123

  • Catalogue Essay

    Phillips would like to thank Dr. Christian Witt-Dörring for his assistance cataloguing the present lot.

    A year after the Austrian professor and artist Koloman Moser designed the present model armchairs, The Studio magazine extolled his work, writing: “When the history of modern art in Vienna comes to be written in detail, the historian will start at the Secession; and when he comes to personalities it will be found that in one branch—namely, applied art—no one is worthier of a prominent place than Koloman Moser, for in the space of a few years he has created a school and (what is more) has helped to educate not only his pupils but also a public as eager to learn as they, and manufacturers ready to produce things which are artistic besides being useful.” Though the author was specifically referring to Moser’s role in co-founding the groundbreaking Wiener Werkstätte in 1903, a defense for this praise can still be found in the present lot: the chairs not only unite the artistic with the useful but they also exemplify the ways in which design was used to influence public taste at the turn-of-the-century in Vienna.

    Moser’s manipulation of rush into a grid-like pattern on the seat and backrest is both structural and decorative. The geometric simplicity of the form represents Moser’s predilection for austere yet exquisitely-crafted design. Moser designed the chairs for Prag-Rudniker, a celebrated producer of rush furniture, during a time when the Austrian-Hungarian Empire was promoting rush furniture. Prag-Rudniker employed the talents of many craftspeople from the Wiener Kunstgewerbeschule (Vienna School of Applied Arts) such as Moser. This type of furniture was frequently used in many of the galleries of the Secession’s exhibitions at the beginning of the twentieth century. The present model armchair was displayed in the galleries of the 18th Secession exhibition at the end of 1903.


Pair of armchairs

circa 1903
Oak, rush.
Each: 48 1/2 x 22 5/8 x 22 in. (123.2 x 57.5 x 55.9 cm)
Executed by Prag-Rudniker Korbwarenfabrik, Vienna, Austria. Underside of each inscribed 229450.

$25,000 - 35,000 

Sold for $47,880

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New York Auction 9 December 2020