Villeroy & Boch (Mettlach, Saarland, Germany, established 1836), designed by Heinrich Schlitt (German, 1849–1923). “2765” Stein, 1902. Stoneware, with colored slip and glaze decoration, and pewter. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of the René von Schleinitz Foundation M1962.848. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.
Last time, we looked at the historical context for artwork in late nineteenth century Germany. In 1871, Germany officially became a unified country. This time, we’ll look at the cultural ramifications of the unification and how it impacted art.
Although German-speaking princes had been allied for centuries, the individual provinces needed to strengthen their commitment in order to counter military and economic competition from other countries such as Austria and France. But just because the people in the new country spoke German and shared much in the way of their cultural identity didn’t mean that they felt like a big happy family. And the disruptive forces of the industrial revolution did nothing to help the sense of confusion and frustration.
The people of the German Empire needed to ask themselves: what does it mean to be German? The imagery on Mettlach steins of the time offers some interesting answers to that question. Continue reading
Villeroy & Boch (Mettlach, Saarland, Germany, established 1836), designed by Christian Warth (German, active 1854–1892). “1395” Stein, 1885. Stoneware with colored slip and glaze decoration, gilding and pewter. Milwaukee Art Museum, Bequest of Dorothy Trommel in memory of her parents, Eunice and Howard Wertenberg M2013.43. Photo credit: John Glembin.
Over the past year, we’ve taken a look at some of the German drinking vessels in the Milwaukee Art Museum’s collection. The subjects have ranged from luxurious silver tankards to early stoneware vessels, and from high-quality Meissen porcelain to the prized tin-glazed earthenware that was developed to mimic it.
Now we’ve come to the end of the 19th century, the time of the most dramatic changes for the German drinking vessels. This was due to a powerful combination of events.