Ceramics Collection

Curator: Rainald Franz

With representative holdings of ceramics from Austrian production from the sixteenth century until today, unique groups of objects such as the legacy of the Wiener Porzellanmanufactur (Vienna Porcelain Manufactory) and the extensive collection of tiled stoves, hafner ware, and majolica of the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries.
The MAK’s Ceramics Collection is one of the foremost collections of its type in the world.

The core of the Ceramics Collection’s 17,200 objects are those from the Wiener Porzellanmanufaktur (Vienna Porcelain Manufactory), which was founded in 1718 as Europe’s second porcelain-making operation, as well as products made by all of the other important European porcelain producers including Europe’s oldest, the one in Meissen (founded in 1710).

Shortly after it closed, the Vienna Porcelain Manufactory’s artistic legacy passed into the holdings of the Museum of Art and Industry, and this material is viewed both domestically and internationally as the definitive collection of works from this producer. With examples from every period, this legacy collection provides an overview of nearly 150 years of Viennese porcelain production.

Over various periods, its cumulative output came to cover the entire spectrum of ceramic products, including table services, vases, clocks, high-quality porcelain sculptures, scenic and floral miniatures, porcelain paintings with gold relief décor and cobalt blue, biscuit porcelain (unglazed white containers or figures), figural and historical paintings, Viennese vedute and floral paintings, and large-format porcelain paintings with floral still lifes.

With the porcelain chamber originally set up at Palais Dubsky in Brno (ca. 1740), the MAK is home to one of the most aesthetically pleasing documents of Vienna’s early porcelain output. The “Dubsky Room,” on exhibit in the hall of the Baroque-Rococo-Classicism section of the MAK Permanent Collection which was designed by Donald Judd, is one of the earliest room-decorating schemes to employ European porcelain.

Austrian ceramics of the 20th century, including a widely recognized Art Nouveau collection with numerous Wiener Werkstätte objects, examples from Wiener Porzellanmanufaktur Augarten (Viennese Porcelain Manufactory Augarten, founded in 1923 and still in existence today), ceramics from Wiener Keramik (founded in 1905 by Michael Powolny) and its successor Vereinigte Wiener und Gmundner Keramik, as well as designs from the workshops of Hugo F. Kirsch and Eduard Klablena, constitute a further central focus of the collection.

An impressive collection of Austrian post-war ceramics produced up to and including the 1980s rounds out the overall collection, along with a comprehensive and important group of Italian majolica objects from the 16th and 17th centuries.

An outstanding overview of the collection can be seen in the rooms of the MAK Permanent Collection Baroque Rococo Classicism and Empire Biedermeier, with principal works by the Wiener Porzellanmanufaktur [Viennese Porcelain Manufactory] such as the porcelain chamber from the Palais Dubsky.