Description & Technical information

Executed by the Wiener Werkstaette
For Stonborough
Christian Witt-Doerring, curator at the Neue Galerie, NY, writes:

The marriage of Margaret Wittgenstein and the American Jerome Stonborough took place in Vienna on 7 January 1905. For this occasion
and their subsequent move to Berlin, Karl Wittgenstein, the bride's
father and one of Austria's most powerful industrial magnates and major
patron of the Vienna Secession, commissioned the Wiener Werkstätte to
furnish the couple's Berlin apartment (In den Zelten 21a). In the same
year he commissioned Klimt to paint Margaret's portrait, which today
hangs in the Neue Pinakothek in Munich. Koloman Moser and Josef
Hoffmann supplied the interior designs for the apartment, including not
only the social and private rooms, but also ancillary facilities such as the
kitchen and the servants' quarters. Work must have been almost
completed by April 1905, for Margaret wrote to her mother in Vienna on
18 April: "Moser - who was absolutely charming again - and I have for
the last three days been arranging furniture, hanging pictures and
painting frames. Now the apartment is in good shape, at least
superficially, and Jerome and I are delighted and sing yours and the
Wiener Werkstätte's praises every day." Moser must have also taken
advantage of his stay in Berlin to start preliminary work on the redesign
of the Berlin branch of the Viennese bent-wood company of J. & J. Kohn,
likewise carried out in partnership with Hoffmann.

Besides dining room and nursery, Josef Hoffmann was in charge of
designing Jerome's study, whose furnishings included the library
cabinet. It was placed symmetrically as one of a pair to the left and right
of the doors to the guest room. The two cabinets make up a set
together with the remaining furniture consisting of a large desk (now in
the New York Neue Galerie along with the second library cabinet), a
bench, three easy chairs and a couch table. Stained black and with
chalked pores, all closed surfaces of the furniture are coffered. This is
what makes the library cabinet radiate a lightness despite its volume
and dark colouring. It articulates the side areas into individual, inwardly
tiered frames, mellowing the block-type appearance of the furniture.
Another element that breaks up the occluded surface is the strikingly
gay effect of the white pore colouring of the wood grain counteracting
the rectangular frame. The cabinet is one of the few items of furniture
actually made in the Wiener Werkstätte carpenter's shop. This was in
existence only for about a year and a half, from May 1904 until
November 1905.

Ref.: Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration; vol. 18, Darmstadt 1905/06, p.
Christian Witt-Dörring (Ed.); Hoffmann Interiors 1902-1913; Munich
2006, pp. 182-205

Date:  1904
Period:  20th century
Origin:  Vienna
Medium: White oak, Faceted glass
Dimensions: 150 x 120 x 35 cm (59 x 47¹/₄ x 13³/₄ inches)
Exhibitions: "Yearning for Beauty - The Wiener Werkstaette and Palais Stoclet House", MAK, Bozar, Bruxelles, 2006
Categories: Furniture