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Art Collection Curatorial European

From the Collection–Character Steins

VEB Porzellanmanufactur Plaue (Plaue, Germany, established 1816). "Singing Pig" Stein, ca. 1900. Glazed hard paste porcelain, colored underglaze decoration, and pewter. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of the René von Schleinitz Foundation M1962.984. Photo by Melissa Hartly Omholt.
VEB Porzellanmanufactur Plaue (Plaue, Germany, established 1816). “Singing Pig” Stein, ca. 1900. Glazed hard paste porcelain, colored underglaze decoration, and pewter. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of the René von Schleinitz Foundation M1962.984. Photo by Melissa Hartly Omholt.

[Once a year, the Milwaukee Art Museum will rotate the German steins on view in the gallery of nineteenth century German art. The newest installation is a selection of character steins, so we’d like to highlight the change by re-posting this entry from 2015.]

Ready for some laughs? In this post, we’ll be looking at German steins meant to be amusing.

The industrial revolution of the nineteenth century meant that more goods could be produced quickly and more people could afford those goods. Developments in the technique for shaping ceramics meant that steins didn’t have to be a standard shape—they could be molded in all sorts of ways. And, in a never-ending quest for novelty, they were!

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Art Collection Curatorial European

German Tankards and Steins: Part 8–Character Steins

VEB Porzellanmanufactur Plaue (Plaue, Germany, established 1816). "Singing Pig" Stein, ca. 1900. Glazed hard paste porcelain, colored underglaze decoration, and pewter. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of the René von Schleinitz Foundation M1962.984. Photo by Melissa Hartly Omholt.
VEB Porzellanmanufactur Plaue (Plaue, Germany, established 1816). “Singing Pig” Stein, ca. 1900. Glazed hard paste porcelain, colored underglaze decoration, and pewter. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of the René von Schleinitz Foundation M1962.984. Photo by Melissa Hartly Omholt.

Ready for some more laughs? In this post, we’ll be looking at more German steins meant to be amusing.

The industrial revolution of the nineteenth century meant that more goods could be produced quickly and more people could afford those goods. Developments in the technique for shaping ceramics meant that steins didn’t have to be a standard shape—they could be molded in all sorts of ways. And, in a never-ending quest for novelty, they were!

Categories
Art Collection Curatorial European

German Tankards and Steins: Part 7–Humorous Mettlach

Villeroy & Boch (Mettlach, Saarland, Germany, established 1836), design attributed to Franz von Stuck (German, 1863–1928). "2106" Stein, 1894. Stoneware, with colored slip and glaze decoration, platinum luster, and pewter. Gift of the René von Schleinitz Foundation M1962.890. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.
Villeroy & Boch (Mettlach, Saarland, Germany, established 1836), design attributed to Franz von Stuck (German, 1863–1928). “2106” Stein, 1894. Stoneware, with colored slip and glaze decoration, platinum luster, and pewter. Gift of the René von Schleinitz Foundation M1962.890. Photo credit: John R. Glembin.

Drinking games have long been a source of entertainment.  One only has to look at the proliferation of puzzle jugs dating back to the sixteenth century to see this.

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Art Collection Curatorial European

German Tankards and Steins: Part 6–Mettlach and the Germany Identity

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.
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.

Categories
Art Collection Curatorial European

German Tankards and Steins: Part 5–Introduction to Late 19th Century Germany

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.
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.

Categories
Art Collection Curatorial European

German Tankards and Steins: Part 3—Tin-Glazed Earthenware

Probably Thuringia, Germany, Tankard, before 1754. Tin-glazed earthenware with polychrome decoration and pewter. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Albert Finkler M1937.26. Photo credit: John R. Glembin
Probably Thuringia, Germany, Tankard, before 1754. Tin-glazed earthenware with polychrome decoration and pewter. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Albert Finkler M1937.26. Photo credit: John R. Glembin

My post this month is about tin-glazed earthenware. Wait! Don’t run! I know that this is one kind of ceramic that makes the study of decorative arts confusing. So many names, so much technical jargon—it’s a headache! But stick with me for a moment, because I hope to explain it in a way that this not too complicated. The reward is another glimpse into the history art, trade, and technology.

Categories
Art Collection Curatorial European

German Tankards and Steins: Part 1—The Erb Tankard

Kornelius Erb (German, Augsburg, ca. 1560-1618). The Erb Tankard, 1580/85. Silver. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Richard and Erna Flagg, M1991.85. Photo credit John Nienhuis
Kornelius Erb (German, Augsburg, ca. 1560-1618). The Erb Tankard, 1580/85. Silver. Milwaukee Art Museum, Gift of Richard and Erna Flagg, M1991.85. Photo credit John Nienhuis

For the past few months, I’ve been lucky enough to be able to research the Milwaukee Art Museum’s collection of German drinking vessels. With over 200 steins, tankards, and jugs, we have examples that range in date from the mid-16th century to the early 20th century. So, over the next few months, I’ll be doing a series of blog posts to highlight this important—and interesting—area of the collection.