About this artwork
This tall-case clock represents a masterful collaboration between two major figures in the Vienna Secession movement: the architect Josef Hoffmann and the designer Carl Otto Czeschka. Like their English counterparts in the Arts and Crafts movement, the Secessionists initially supported the credo that art is for everyone and worked to create beautiful, simple objects for everyday use. A manifestation of this philosophy was the Wiener Werkstätte, or Vienna Workshop, of which Hoffmann was a founder and Czeschka a member. Produced by the Werkstätte’s specialist craftsmen, this clock embodies the unexpected dichotomy that arose within the workshop: its early reformist ideals resulted in progressive, even avant-garde, products that appealed primarily to a privileged, sophisticated clientele. Hoffmann’s design consists of simple, architectonic forms emphasized through the bold use of stark white-painted maple and an inlaid checkered pattern. In contrast to the case’s austere rectilinearity, Czeschka designed a luxurious, hand-wrought scheme for its dial and door. The door is fashioned from hand-embossed gilt brass inset with cut-glass prisms. Its richly patterned surface decoration depicts a stylized tree of life motif.
- Josef Hoffmann
- Tall-Case Clock
- Painted maple, ebony, mahogany, gilt brass, glass, silver-plated copper, patinated bronze, and clockworks
- No mark
- 179.5 × 46.5 × 30.5 cm (70 5/8 × 18 1/4 × 12 in.)
- Laura Matthews, and Mary Waller Langhorne endowments