AN INDULGENT, PROPERLY BOHEMIAN SPIRIT FLASK
Now, you could be forgiven for thinking that today’s piece from our website is a continuation of the recent run of glass and metal hybrid pieces which we have featured – but that’s purely a coincidence as this is a flagrant display of self-importance as our striking Art Nouveau flask has been chosen simply because I like it. So there.
It is, that said, still an amalgam of glass and pewter – and at first glance it has a positively organic appearance which is what caught my attention. It’s the way in which the deep violet trailed threads are set in to the opalescent olive-green ground which gives it an almost quilted, fabric-like appearance, along the lines of an old leather drinking flask in a netting bag (or a plump thigh in fishnets – another image which has just popped in to my head !)
The creative force behind the flask originated in Austria, in the shape of Ignaz Pallme-Konig’s self-titled company which dates back to the mid 1780’s. By the time our flask first saw the light of day at the turn of the 19th century, relocation to Košt'any u Teplic in Bohemia and a merger meant that the company responsible were properly titled Glasfabrik Elisabeth, Pallme-Konig and Habel – a suitably dramatic name for such a striking piece of work. The use of trailed decoration which has been left in relief, rather than being applied to vases which were then mould-blown to create a more uniform surface, is typical of (though far from unique to) GEP-K&H material. The famous Loetz manufactory was also renowned for working with iridescent glass, but their trailed features were often rendered flush with the surface of pieces – a good indication of which of the two sources a particular piece may have been made by.
Whilst GEP-K&H was a large company employing several hundred craftsmen and numerous designers, this vase is very typical of items designed by a chlapík by the name of Josef Velkik, who had ascended to the role of ‘hlavný dekoratér’ (decorator in chief) by around 1910. Velkik often worked alongside his brother in law, Alois Ritter – but the olive and purple colour combination is typical of Velkik’s hand.
Ritter’s work is less distinctive (a glassblower by trade, rather than a student of rendering sketches), but he has been referenced with regard to the production of small lidded bowls featuring ribbed glass bodies with metal handles and lids; perhaps it was the junior partner who suggested the addition of a pewter cover and handle to one of Velkik’s signature pieces, and thus provided the distinctive finishing touch to this rather fetching artefact ?