Robb Design Portfolio: Women on the Verge

Peril and peace in porcelain

Around 1900, ceramic artist Eduard Stellmacher created a haunting vase for Amphora, a manufactory in Turn-Teplitz, Bohemia (now part of the Czech Republic). The piece, which measures 17 inches tall and 9.75 inches wide, is defined by a group of women’s heads floating in a sea of watery forms and flowing hair.

"We call it the Spirits vase," says Jason Jacques, whose eponymous gallery on Manhattan’s Upper East Side (212.535.7500, www.jasonjacques.com) specializes in Art Nouveau and Japonist ceramics. Jacques describes the $70,000 piece as a Symbolist work from the Art Nouveau period. It was created from a soft-paste porcelain that was poured into a mold, then fired and glazed multiple times. "A more highly detailed example from Amphora simply does not exist," rel="nofollow" says Jacques.

Stellmacher often portrayed women in peril in his work—it was a dominant artistic theme of the period. However, Jacques interprets this motif somewhat differently: He attributes to the women depicted in this vase a peacefulness that, he feels, makes Stellmacher’s work as mysterious as it is rare.

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