The European Decorative Arts Company carries an outstanding collection of objects made in rock crystals and other hardstones and examples of important makers such as Hermann Ratzersdorfer, Hermann Bohm, Charles Duron, Jean Valentin Morel.
From the time of their inception, these objects were meant to be cherished for the materials that were employed in their production and for the skilled manner in which they were crafted. The fact that these items, as fragile and vulnerable as they are, have survived in their present condition with minimal damage, is testament to how greatly they were valued over the years by their temporary custodians.
In-person viewing of our extensive collection can be arranged at our by-appointment-only showrooms.
For any questions regarding our offerings, please contact us at:
Silver-gilt, Ahoure and Champleve enamel, Rock crystal
h 9.0 " w 8.0 " d 4.5 "
MARKED HR CONJOINED AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN EMPIRE STANDARD HEAD MARK ADDITIONALLY MARKED WITH A FOR AUSTRIA 23 x 20.4 x 11 cm
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As one of the most prominant silversmiths working in Austria in the second half of the 19th century, Ratzersdorfer's objets de vertu exude with unmistakable identity the prevailing "Ringstrasse" taste of the growing bourgeoisie of European society. He was the leading producer, along with Hermann Böhm, of carved hardstones - rock crystal, agate, lapiz lazuli - mounted in silver and silver-gilt with champlevé and painted enamel decoration, all in the neo renaissance revival style. He sought inspiration in the 16th and 17th century vessels made for the princely families of Europe, many of which were then becoming increasingly available to the public in newly founded museums. Ratzersdorfer himself had first hand knowledge of the earlier pieces and their construction after examining them in the Imperial collections. It has been suggested that the renewed interest during this period in creating such luxury objects - by either making replicas of existing objects or simply making new forms in earlier mannerist and baroque styles - was partly due to the unification of Germany in 1871, when Hungarian mines had become more widely available for excavation thus making the materials more available to the trade.
Ratzersdorfer entered his hallmark in 1843, and continued in business at different addresses until at least 1900. He participated in several important international exhibitions, including London (1851), Paris (1855), Vienna (1873) and Paris (1878 & 1889).
Medals were awarded to him in 1851 for a silver toilet glass and in 1855 for a jewelled silver & enamel box. At the 1873 Vienna Exhibition Ratzersdorfer made an impressive display, winning the admiration of at least one French critic who commented; "«we collection très-belle d'imitations de bijoux anciens, des coupes, des coffrets..., des peintures sur email très-fines, imitant la belle epoque de la Renaissance allemande."
Interestingly, successful though he was, Ratzersdorfer became disenchanted with his work and the Austrian Court, which he believed was corrupt. He gave up on silversmithing and left the industry. After a brief career in the diamond business, he began to buy back his earlier creations which he believed were the work of Satan and destroyed them. Ratzersdorfer's works are in the collections of the Württembergisches Landesmuseum in Stuttgart, and the Kunstgewerbemuseum in Berlin.
Claude Blair, ed. The History of Silver, 1987, pp. 179-180.
Howard Ricketts, Antique Gold And Enamelware In Color, 1971, pp. 94-99.
Waltraud Neuwirth, Wiener Gold und Silverschmiede und ihre Punzen 1867- 1922, Volume II, pp. 129-137.