Description & Technical information

Christian Witt-Doerring, curator at the Neue Galerie, NY, writes:

The pendant lamp model no. M 1805 was made by the Wiener Werkstätte in 1911 as one of 13 examples after a design by Josef Hoffmann for the corridors of the first floor of the Villa Ast in Vienna 19, corner of Steinfeldgasse 2 and Wollergasse 12, and cost 50.- crowns per piece. The architect's client Eduard Ast was the owner of the construction company Eduard Ast & Co. founded in 1898, whose activities covered the entire area of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. It was known first and foremost for its building in reinforced and prestressed concrete. The first contacts between Ast and Hoffmann must have arisen at the latest through the Purkersdorf Sanatorium, built in reinforced concrete by the Ast company in 1904. Subsequently the Ast company executed a fair number of Hoffmann's most important buildings, such as the Villa Hochstetter (1906/07), the second Villa Moll (1906/07), the Kunstschau building, Vienna (1908) and the Villa Skywa-Primavesi (1913-15). For the construction of the Villa Ast, Hoffmann deliberately – and most probably at the request of his client – deployed the incrustation technique developed by the construction company, its application especially successful in the decorative panels above the windows.

The pendant lamp, its very plain design harmonising with its secondary location of use in the private area of the house, keeps to the tradition of Hoffmann's suspended chandeliers. The light source, concealed here with a milkglass ball, is hung from a stepped brass calotte mounted on a round wooden panel. The ball is secured downward by two brass chains. They openly and deliberately frame the electric wire visible in the middle, its technical expediency not veiled behind contrived covering, but proudly flourishing its source of power. Form and function fuse here into perfect unity.

Archive no.: WWMB 34, p. 1805

Date:  1909-11
Period:  20th century
Origin:  Vienna
Medium: Brass
Dimensions: 15 x 80 x 15 cm (5⁷/₈ x 31¹/₂ x 5⁷/₈ inches)
Literature: Ref.: Moderne Bauformen, XII. vol., 1913, p. 22

Categories: Decorative Arts & Design, Furniture