Pair of showcases, attr. Bruno Paul, Vereinigte Werkstatten fur Kunst im Handwerk Munchen, ca. 1905
Bruno Paul attended the Art Academy in Dresden from 1892 to 1894 on the initiative of his father. In 1897, Bruno Paul founded the Vereinigte Werkstätten für Kunst im Handwerk Munich together with Richard Riemerschmid and other colleagues. During this time, he worked in parallel as a caricaturist for the “Simplicissimus” magazine and designed furniture as well as entire room interiors. In 1907, he co-founded the “Deutscher Werkbund” and in 1910 he was appointed to the management of the German section of the World Exhibition in Brussels. From 1924 on, he was the director of what is now the University of Arts in Berlin. His work and creativity influenced other famous architects such as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, George Grosz and Adolf Meyer. He was considered the house architect of Norddeutscher Lloyd and was honored with a Grand Prix at the 1904 World Exhibition in St. Louis. Some of his buildings are now listed monuments.
The unusual shape of the two showcases immediately catches the eye. Bruno Paul used the shape of the diamond in several projects. This geometric figure is at the heart of many of his ornaments, especially when it comes to his furniture designs. At the German Arts and Crafts Exhibition in Dresden in 1906, Paul presented a dining room in where the diamond ornament was ubiquitous. The distinctive base of the showcases can be found again in 1904 at the exhibition of the Deutscher Künstlerbund in Munich. Two small pillar shelf units with bronzes by Franz von Stuck feature the same design in the upper section. At the same exhibition, the base of a cabinet bears the same square elements, as well as a pearl border at the top, similar to the one on our pair of vases. The woods used, maple and walnut, also suggest an authorship by Bruno Paul.
The two vitrines were conceived as a display space for art objects. The shelves offer space for three art objects each and the showcases were designed so that they can stand freely in the room. Thus, both the front and the back of the showcases are presentable. Additionally, there is small compartment in the base. The execution was probably done by the Vereinigte Werkstätten in Munich. The fittings in the front are made of silver with small coral applications. The main body of the vitrine, which rests on two massive walnut wood spheres, is particularly refined. As a whole, the two display cases form a successful composition by Bruno Paul from around 1905.
Bruno Paul (Seifhennersdorf 1874 – 1968 Berlin)
Bruno Paul was a German designer and architect. He studied at the School of Arts and Crafts in Dresden and, from 1894, at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. Together with fellow artists, he founded the Vereinigte Werkstätten für Kunst im Handwerk (United Workshops for Arts in Crafts) in 1898, inspired by the British Arts and Crafts movement. Paul was also a founding member of the Deutscher Werkbund in 1907.
Initially, Paul’s designs for furniture and interior design were still associated with a sober Jugendstil style. His geometrically designed room furnishings attracted attention at German arts and crafts exhibitions and also won awards at world exhibitions (Paris 1900 or St. Louis 1904).
With his representative interiors (e.g. Faber-Castell-Schlösschen Nuremberg) and designs for villas or business premises, Bruno Paul certainly served an upper-class clientele. He also made a name for himself as an interior designer of luxury liners for Norddeutsche Lloyd, where he worked as an in-house architect for a time.
At the same time, Bruno Paul is considered a pioneer of a modern, functional style, which meant the departure from Art Nouveau. Thus, he developed modern serial modular furniture, which was later produced by the Deutsche Werkstätten Hellerau. With his designs, Paul subsequently influenced well-known modern architects such as Mies van der Rohe.
With his appointment as head of the School of Arts and Crafts in Berlin in 1907 and his appointment as director of the University of the Arts in 1924, Paul exerted a strong influence on the modernization of the educational system and, in particular, elevated the role of the applied arts.
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