Art nouveau Johann Loetz Witwe Glassworks vase is on display with ‘From the Pages of PAN’ exhibition

By Daniel Fulco, Ph.D., Agnita M. Stine Schreiber Curator

To mark the opening of the new exhibition From the Pages of PAN: Art Nouveau Prints, 18951900 (on view through January 29, 2023), we hope that you enjoy this Art Nouveau vase in our collection. If you visit, the work is on view in the Kerstein Gallery.


Johann Loetz Witwe Glassworks (Czech Republic, 1836–1947)
Phänomen Vase, ca. 1890‒1900
Blown glass with brass frame
21.625″h x 11.25″w x 7.5 “diam.
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Michael Merson, Baltimore, Maryland, A3439,99.0901

Johann Loetz Witwe Glassworks was one of the leading Art Nouveau glass producers in Europe. Loetz introduced iridescent Phänomen glass in 1898. Set within a brass frame, this Phänomen Vase exemplifies Jugendstil (German, “youth style”), the branch of Art Nouveau that emerged in Munich during the late nineteenth century. Like their contemporaries in Paris and Brussels, Jugendstil designers drew inspiration from the natural world, seeking to capture a sense of dynamism and energetic organic growth in their work. In this example, the vase’s shimmering surface and attenuated, curvilinear frame express the fluidity of the once-molten glass as well as the vitality of the natural world. The work’s abstracted botanical forms and iridescent ornament, as well as the smooth bare surface of the brass frame, seamlessly complement the vase and accentuate its colors.

An easily recognized style, Art Nouveau originated in Belgium and is characterized by flowing, organic, vine-like lines, as artists looked to natural forms for inspiration, rather than models of the past. The movement’s philosophy espoused a unified approach to all arts, bringing artistry into architecture, textile design, jewelry, furniture, and every aspect of daily life. Some artists embraced modern materials and technologies, while others valued traditional handicraft. Subject matter often features sensual or erotic figures (most often female), as well as imagery derived from plants, ocean life, and insects. Like the Arts and Crafts Movement, Art Nouveau reacted against the Industrial Revolution and the availability of inexpensive, mass-produced goods.

This WeekendArt is sponsored by James & Melinda Marsden.

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