Prints and drawings by Albrecht Durer, £9.99
Diameter: 17.000 cm
Diameter: 17.000 cm (plate)
Room 48: Europe 1900 to now
Porcelain plate designed by Peter Behrens
Oberpfalz, Köln-Ehrenfeld and Mainz, Germany, AD 1900-01
Avante-garde geometric forms
This group of tableware was designed by Peter Behrens for his own house at Darmstadt. It forms part of a group of tableware comprising two porcelain plates and a cup and saucer with stencilled overglaze decoration made by the porcelain factory of Gebrüder Bauschen, a wine glass with a clear bowl and ruby stem made by Rheinische Glashütten, and a cast silver fork made by M.J. Rückert.
Peter Behrens (1869-1940) practised as a painter in Munich during the 1890s before embarking on a career in architecture and design. In 1899 he was invited to join a newly established artists' colony at Darmstadt, where he designed his own house complete with all its furniture and accessories. The tableware he created for the house was later manufactured more widely. The house formed the centrepiece of an exhibition held at Darmstadt in 1901 called Ein Dokument Deutscher Kunst ('A Record of German Art'). This exhibition marked a turning point in German design and the introduction of a new modern idiom based on plain geometric forms with minimal decoration.
This porcelain tableware formed part of a large dinner service composed of hexagonal, octagonal and flat circular forms, all highly unusual at this date. The pattern on the round dessert plate echoed the decoration of the dining room ceiling. The wine glass with its hollow stem is essentially a pared down and simplified German drinking glass in form, but the bold red stem is quite unlike anything in traditional or contemporary glass and was thought wildly avant-garde at the time. The silver dinner fork is also severe, with restrained decoration on the handle in the form of a geometric linear pattern.
J. Rudoe, Decorative arts 1850-1950: a c, 2nd ed. (London, The British Museum Press, 1994)
J. Heskett, Design in Germany 1870-1918 (London, Trefoil, 1986)
A. Windsor, Peter Behrens, architect and d (London, Architectural Press, 1981)
J. Rudoe, 'Aspects of design reform in the German ceramic industry around 1900', Journal of the Decorative Arts, 14 (1990), pp. 24-34