The Wiener Werkstätte

At the dawn of the 20th century, Vienna established itself as a major cultural centre in Europe. As the capital of an empire with a population of over 50 million, bringing together nearly 15 nations and enjoying a prosperous economic climate, it saw the coexistence of two distinct groups of art lovers: an aristocracy attached to traditional academicism and a new bourgeoisie seeking to escape reality through art.

In this environment, the foundations of psychoanalysis were theorised and inspired certain artists who broke with academicism to found the Vienna Secession. In architecture and the decorative arts, the Wiener Werkstätte invented the concept of the total work of art.

The Wiener Werkstätte was founded in 1903 by Josef Hoffmann, Koloman Moser and industrialist Fritz Waerndorfer. Inspired by the Arts & Crafts movement in the UK, their aim was to merge the fine and decorative arts to produce a total art form accessible to as many people as possible. The Wiener Werkstätte were intended to be didactic, to awaken the interest of all social classes in utilitarian art that combined form and function.

In 1905, the association published its manifesto in the magazine Hohe Warte, emphasising the diversity of specialities as well as the group’s social and aesthetic ambitions. The founders wanted to reverse the trend away from mass production towards useful and beautiful art objects, to favour craftsmanship over machines and to abolish the boundaries between art and craft.

The Ateliers Viennois employed craftsmen to make high-quality objects, based on models designed by artists, to furnish homes and businesses in a style that they wanted to be modern.

As Josef Hoffmann put it, their aim was that “our homes, our bedrooms, our cupboards, our utensils, our clothes, our jewellery… should elegantly, simply and magnificently reflect the spirit of our age”. The set of furniture and objects we are presenting, from a French collection, is an illustration of this aim.

Petite Armoire

Lot 28. JOSEF HOFFMANN (1870-1956)
A small cabinet in lacquered wood and maple’s veneer. Original key.
58 7/8 X 27 1/2 X 21 5/8IN.

PROVENANCE : Appartement de Fritz Wärndorfer
Im Kinsky Vienne, vente, 8 juin 2005, lot 1062
Collection particulière, France

8 000 / 12 000€






Tuesday 21 November 2023 at 3pm

Tajan, 37 rue des Mathurins, 75008 Paris


Marie-Cécile Michel
Director of the 20th Century Decorative Arts & Design Department
+33 1 53 30 30 58
[email protected]


Juliette Poubelle
Sales Administrator
+33 1 53 30 30 53
[email protected]