Star of total art work in sale

Works by the one of the most prominent proponents of the Austrian art concept of “Gesamtkunstwerk”, or ‘total art work’ goes under the hammer in Vienna next month.

More than any other name, Joseph Hoffmann evokes the concept of “Gesamtkunstwerk”  and the celebrated work of the “Wiener Werkstätte”, the early 20th century Viennese community of visual artists.

Works by Joseph Hoffmann At the beginning of next month, The Dorotheum Jugendstil will feature several examples of his exceptional creativity as well as a wide range of other period objects, as the star of the Jugendstil and 20th Century Arts and Crafts Auction.

There can be no doubt that, were he alive today, Hoffman would still be among the most sought-after architects and interior designers. Back in 1913/14 he designed the country residence of the Primavesi family in Winkelsdorf (Lower Austria) which became famous for its artist parties, attended, among others, by Hoffmann himself as well as Gustav Klimt, Anton Hanak, Kolo Moser and Dagobert Peche, as can be seen in numerous family photographs.

The Dorotheum auction includes the 4 by 3 m carpet, made by Johann Backhausen & Sons, which Hoffmann created as part of the interior design of the main salon (estimate €40,000/£34,000 – €80,000/£68,000).

The scope of Hoffmann’s skills is further underlined by two objects produced by  “Wiener Werkstätte”. A severely geometric and modern teapot is juxtaposed by an oval jardinière dating to 1910, decorated with stylised floral designs, with bell-shaped feet and lapis lazuli ornaments, which is deliberately ornamental in style (€15,000/£13,000 – €20,000/£17,000 or €25,000/£21,000 – €30,000/£26,000). The diverse Hoffmann selection ranges from a tea-service, to a six-armed candelabrum, a glass centrepiece bowl, a seat machine, a gold watch pendant, to a stylistically pure cake slice.

Peter Behrens, one of the pioneers of German art nouveau, contributes a set of 12 silver crème spoons and serving spoons in the original cassette, a design of 1901/02 made by M. J. Rückert, Mainz (€12,000/£10,000 – €15,000/£13,000).

This auction 1st December will also feature an especially fine selection of ceramics and French glass.

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