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Introduction to Art Nouveau
Brussels, capital of Art Nouveau
Artists from Horta to Gallé and from Klimt to WMF
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German Metalware production company

Founded in 1880 by the merger of two existing German companies, the WÜRTTEMBERGISCHE METALWARENFABRIK was, around 1900, the world's largest producer and exporter of household metalware, mainly in the JUGENDSTIL style.

The company's trademark was an Ostrich.

10.000 different items were produced from the teaspoon to enormous table centrepieces and the metal used was mainly pewter with silver plating and use of glass for some items.

Widely known by its initials, WMF, the company preferred to create its own designs and so the main proportion of the beautyful creations in Art Nouveau style are from their own Art studio which was directed from 1894 by sculptor and designer Albert Mayer.
Mayer, specialized in designs which depicted beautiful maidens & nymphs with flowing hair and graceful postures.

In 1886, WMF took over the Polish metalware factory "PLEWKIEWICZ" in Warsaw (Poland),which then became a subsidiary of WMF the around 1900. In the same period, WMF had also opened several shops in Germany and had more than 3500 workers.
In 1900 they acquired a famous Austrian metalwork company called "AK & CIE" for Albert Köhler u. Cie that produced and distributed on the Austro-Hungarian Market the WMF items under the mark "AK & Cie". That was to last until around 1914.

The period between 1900 and 1914 was one of further expansion for the company and in 1905 WMF acquired the ORIVIT AG an important Köln company known for its Jugendstil pewter, followed a year later by the purchase of the ORION Kunstgewerbliche Metallwarenfabrik another German metalware company.

WMF continued to use those acquired companies for their brands on their own markets producing and distributing the same objects under different brand.
Therefore, on the Antique market items marked WMF are considered at the same level of those marked "AK & Cie", "ORION" or "ORIVIT".

For a list with pics of the original marks, stamped marks and stamps by WMF as the famous ostrich trade-mark click this link.

The war in 1914 brought WMF the immediate loss of all its export markets: the WMF's golden age was finished.

The decorative pieces of WMF are highly sought after today and are prized by collectors throughout the world.

Many Artists worked for WMF either on a free-lance base or as employee. Among them :

- Albert MAYER , sculptor and designer : director of the WMF Art Studio from 1894 to 1914.
- Hans PETER (1856-1945) sculptor, in 1907 he established his own metalware factory.
- Rudolf MEYER (1848-1916) goldsmith and sculptor
- Franz von STUCK (1863-1928) sculptor for a vase (item 3 at page 370 of 1906 WMF catalogue)
- Herman OBRIST (1862-1927) sculptor, - Hermann DÜRRICH (1864- ?) sculptor
- Albin MÜLLER (1871-1941) architect for a typical jugendstil bottle stand (item 15 at page 153 of the 1906 WMF catalogue)
- Peter BEHRENS (1868-1940) member of the Darmstad Artist Colony, for a geometric jugenstil Waiter (item 84 at page 181 of the 1906 catalogue)

the WMF Collection by Senses Art Nouveau

CLICK HERE to see our WMF Collection items

Major works:

- WMF Twin compartment tray by Albert MAYER
- the Jugendstil Easel mirror with a lady in pewter also by Albert MAYER
- WMF Claret jug
- WMF Candelabra


WMF's domination of the export market is illustrated by the fact that they produced a sumptuous catalogue showing over 3,000 domestic pieces with descriptions in the English language.
This catalogue was issued in 1906 by the company's English subsidiary from their showroom in Fore Street, London, and, as each illustration was hand-drawn, it must have represented a considerable investment.
Original copies are now virtually unobtainable, and the complete catalogue has been reprinted, in colour, for the very first time with a detailed historical introduction by Graham Dry, a noted authority on nineteenth and twentieth century decorative arts.
For the collector, this revised edition will provide a fascinating insight into the type and style of domestic metalwork that was available at the height of the Art Nouveau period. With details which include size, finish, and cost, the descriptions will be a major source of information.

Get your copy of the ART NOUVEAU DOMESTIC METAL WORK from WMF Catalogue 1906 from AMAZON

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