In AH  's collection
307 

Ladies Writing Desk

1904
Unique piece
125.5 x 105 x 57 cm (49,41 x 41,34 x 22,44 in.)

Description

Ladies writing desk in mahoganny.

Comment

A lady's salon including the writing desk shown here was commissioned in 1904 immediately after the Darmstadt Artists' Colony Exhibition of that year, by Mathilde Kessler (1849-1914), a member of the Karcher industrialist family who were part-owners of the Saar Steelworks Dingler, Karcher & Co. in Saarbrücken and Worms. The Salon was a wedding present to her daughter Mathilde and son-in-law, Rudolf Kleinjung (1872-1943), a state lawyer. They set up their home in Bensheim, near Darmstadt. The furniture remained in the house, Ernst-Ludwigstrasse 33, until 1941 and was subsequently inherited by their daughter Hildegard (1910-1995), who left it to one of her sons. It was auctioned off to the present owner in 2007.

The desk is an excellent example of early German modernism where the jugendstil elements have been limited to the two intarsia panels on either side of the front.

About Joseph Maria Olbrich

Joseph Maria Olbrich (22 December 1867 – 8 August 1908) was an Austrian architect and co-founder of the Vienna Secession. Olbrich was born in Opava, Austrian Silesia (today in the Czech Republic), the third child of Edmund and Aloisia Olbrich. He had two sisters, who died before he was born, and two younger brothers, John and Edmund. His father was a prosperous confectioner and wax manufacturer who also owned a brick works, where Olbrich's interest in the construction industry has its early origin. Olbrich studied architecture at the University of Applied Arts Vienna (Wiener Staatsgewerbeschule) and the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, where he won several prizes. These included the Prix de Rome, for which he traveled in Italy and North Africa. In 1893, he started working for Otto Wagner, the Austrian architect, and probably did the detailed construction for most of Wagner's Wiener Stadtbahn (Metropolitan Railway) buildings. In 1897, Gustav Klimt, Olbrich, Josef Hoffmann and Koloman Moser founded the Vienna Secession artistic group. Olbrich designed their exhibition building, the famous Secession Hall, which became the movement's landmark. In 1899, Ernest Louis, Grand Duke of Hesse, founded the Darmstadt Artists' Colony, for which Olbrich designed many houses (including his own) and several exhibition buildings.

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