Kralik

Unravelling the mysteries
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Written by Alfredo Villanueva-Collado, Ph.D.

Photos © Abersio Núñez

 

There is a large family of vases constituting perhaps one of the greatest attribution mysteries in Czech Jugendstil production. From the 70’s to the present they have been classified and marketed as Loetz, no doubt because of their exquisite colors and decoration, their many times considerable size, and their exotic shapes (See Hilschenz: 365 through 372; and also the Habsburg-Feldman catalogue from May 13-14,1990: 62/168; 62/184,186,188). They also have been classified as Pallme-König (Hilchenz 399,400; Brohan 294,295). However, the PMC currently lists them as "anonymous production" (IV: 383 through 388).

 

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There are three distinctive variants within this family of vases. In the first, vessels are made of golden, red or green glass spots over clear glass and randomly applied bands of aqua-green, amber or silver iridescence. 

The vase in Photo 39- a massive 13" piece-- appears in Hilschenz 372 in green with silver bands; and recently there was another on E-Bay, identical shape, in solid cobalt blue with silver bands. On a visit to New York Metropolitan Museum’s Islamic section I was astounded to find an identically-shaped hanging lamp, plus four handles, which was used in mosques.

39
The bowl on Photo 40 is salmon pink over clear with silver bands. Hilschenz 371 shows it in red with silver bands. There are also variants of this shape in violet or blue glass with a deep bronze iridescence. The vase to the left in Photo 41 introduces vessels in red/clear with silver bands. Kralik40S.jpg (5664 bytes) Kralik41S.jpg (5067 bytes)
40 41

 

Kralik42S.jpg (6376 bytes) Kralik43S.jpg (5425 bytes) The two vases in Photo 42 and the left-hand one in Photo 43 are 13 inches tall. The jack-in-the-pulpit in Photo 42 appeared in a Habsburg, Feldman catalogue (May 13.14, 1990: 62/184) with a SFr 2’500-3’000 estimate. The right-hand vase in Photo 43 appeared in a Sotheby’s catalogue (March 16/17, 1990: 434) as Loetz, with a $3,000-5,000 estimate. In the same catalogue, item 432, there appears a Loetz "centerpiece, " identical to PMC IV: 272, but in green, with a $5000-8,000 estimate. The estimates give an idea of the value given to a "Loetz"attribution by major auction houses, and the corresponding margin of error.
42 43

 

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44 45 46 47
Both vases in photo 43 show how the silver iridescence of the bands is really a chemical reaction of metallic salts over amber glass. Photo 44 shows a 13"vase in green ver clear with silver bands, which I also have in 15". Photo 45 shows the same vase in gold and raspberry red over clear, with a crackle effect. Photos 46, 47 introduce yet another subgroup: vessels in gold/clear with bands of irregularly placed aqua-green glass bands, the same color as the looped decoration in Photo 38.

 

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Photo 48 shows two "hyacinth" vases and a cabinet bowl. The left-hand vase is green/ green with silvery -blue bands; the cabinet vase is pale yellow/clear with colorless bands.
The bowl on Photo 49 also has colorless bands over gold/clear; the bowl in Photo 50 is also gold/clear, with amber yellow bands.

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I’d venture to say all of these are Kralik vessels. My evidence is anecdotal, and yet it stems from observation. It so happens that on E-Bay I came across a vase with a round outwardly bent tricorn top on a cylindrical body, obviously meant to be placed on a metal frame, in Kralik’s "smooth" decoration of Photo 7.  A few weeks later, the very same vase, this time in its corresponding metal frame, appeared. But this time it was gold/clear, with irregularly placed bands and a deep bronze iridescence! For the first time I had seen two pieces, one in a recognized Kralik decoration pattern, and the other belonging to the family of vases that I knew so well, from having assiduously collected them over the years.

Art Nouveau/Jugendstil Kralik has been marketed as Loetz for so long that it may be very difficult to get it established on its own as a distinct and separate manufacture.

Different manufacturers may have produced very similar wares. However, they were careful to imitate, not to copy.  Moreover, whenever possible, they tried to create glass lines that would be uniquely their own. Given the paucity of documentation on Kralik, I have tried to open up the identification process through a careful, open-minded and open-ended observation process. My attributions are subject to change and revision in the light of new research. I hope other collectors and researchers may contribute to the ever-growing, ever changing store of knowledge about the magical world of Bohemian iridescent glass.

 

WORKS CITED

  • Adlerová, Alena, et.al. Das Böhmishe Glass 1750-1900. Band IV, Jugendstil in Böhmen. Passau: Passauer Glasmuseum, 1995. [PMC- section on Kralik by Jan Mergl. See also Band VI, Art Deco. Moderne-- section on Kralik by Duna Panenková]
  • Bacile, John. "Kralik Comes of Age." Czechoslovakian Collectors Guild International 3, 4(Winter 1997-98): 3.
  • Bröhan, Karl H. Sammlung Bröhan II: Kunsthandwork 1. Berlin: Karl H. Bröhan, 1976
  • Hilschenz, Helga. Das Glas des Jugendstils: Dusseldorf, 1973.
  • Nedblake, Wes and Kathy Foster. "How Can You Tell If It’s Loetz?" Czechoslovakian Collectors Guild International 1,3 (Autumn 1995): 8-14.
  • Pazaurek, Gustav E. and Walter Spiegel. Glass des 20. Jahrhunderts Jugendstil. Art Deco. München: Klinkhardt & Biermann, 1983
  • Truitt, Robert. "Bohemian Glass." Glass Collectors Digest, XIII, 1 (June/July 1999): 3-4.
  • Truitt, Robert and Deborah. Collectible Bohemian Glass I: 1880-1940. Kengsinton, MD.: B&D GLASS, 1995. [CBG I]
  • Truitt, Robert and Deborah. Collectible Bohemian Glass II: 1915-1945. Kengsinton, MD.: B&D GLASS, 1998. [CBG II]
  • Villanueva-Collado, Alfredo. "All That Shines Is Not Loetz: Identifying Unsigned Bohemian Iridescent Glass," Glass Collector’s Digest XII, 6 (April-May 1999): 51-63 [NATS].
  • Wichmann, Sigfried. Internationales Jugendstilglas. Vorformen Moderner Kunst.  Munich: Ausst. Kat. Museum Stuck- Villa, 1969.

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