Types of Stoneware

Elefantengriff bei Vase #2851

Mettlacher ceramic elements and its manufacturing techniques

Historism shaped the art in the second half of the 19th century. Stylistic elements from the classical work of art , the Middle Ages , from the art of the 15th - 18th century tooked center stage of artistic creation and addressed exactly the feelings of the people of that time.

In addition, the Middle East (the mysterious Orient) and, above all, Japan had a great influence on the Western European artists and the stylistic elements were incorporated into their own creations. Until the World Exposition of London in 1851 the influence from Asia was rather insignificant. After that, European artists began to copy and imitate this art eagerly.

The Islamic stylistic elements with their expressive patterns and colorful glazes were also a sensation for Western Europe. It is therefore not surprising that this enthusiasm also came to Mettlach and found its way into the ceramics. Thus, many details of Mettlacher products such as dragon handles and elephant trunks, certain body postures and gestures of persons as well as cherry blossom branches are arranged in an "Oriental expression".

Mettlach was not at that time as famous as the metropolises of the art scene - Munich , Darmstadt , Berlin , Paris or Brussels . One can nevertheless notice that from the beginning Mettlach followed historicism in the production of ceramics. The produced ceramic products were not only technically perfect but also valuable expressions of stylistic and artistic values of this era.

A very well-known, early product from the Mettlach ceramics production is the "Kölner Dom-Becher" . It was designed in 1845-47 by the architect Ludwig Foltz in neo-gothic style. The stylistic element of Neo-Gothic is also found in many other works that this artist had created for Mettlach .

The motifs from earlier periods are very typical, so lansquenets and (cross) knights are often used in the representations. But also picking up the old Germanic legends fits well into this context. At Richard Wagner , they were the subject of his opera, and some of the scenes are decorated with Mettlach ceramics (such as Lohengrin's wedding on the pitcher #2391 ). All expression of the love and passion of a people for his own past.

But also the interest in the antiquity in that time can be found on the Mettlach stone objects. Just think Drachen Henkelof the Kamee and Phanolith wall plates , amphorae , cans and beer steins from the Mettlach artist Jean-Baptiste Stahl . The most frequent scenes are from the trojan wars and Greek gods .

Not to be forgotten is the lingering love of Fatherland , which was inspired by the first unification of some countries and kingdoms to the "German Reich" in 1871. These can also be found in the representations of the Germania (such as Wandteller #1386 ) and by heraldic symbols (such as coat of arms plate #1290/3225 ) on some Mettlacher objects.

Many of the decors of the Mettlacher articles from this era will appear too pompous and emotional. But if one takes into account that this pomp was a privilege of the (high) nobility and the church before the nineteenth century, it was suddenly accessible to a much larger number of people by industrialization in the production (and thus low prices). And that was something very special for industrialists, merchants and the middle classes could now which could take now this pomp of the past into their houses and feel like "kings and princes" :-))


Shortly before the end of the 1900s, the style of art developed something entirely new: the art of the "Jugendstil" (also called Art Nouveau ) which counteracted and slowly abolished the previous trend of imitation. The "Jugendstil" was based on a harmonious, soft, and even feminine line, which originated in the enthusiasm for the Orient and stood for vitality, modernity and, above all, originality.

wehendes HaarTypical features were women with waving, long hair and light skin (such as Mettlach Wandteller #2542 ), water lilies, irises, poppy flowers, swans on the water, garments of light fabric and much more. The forms were very elegant, simple and noble, the decors adapted to the form, clearly recognizable Japanese influences. In the course of the years the motifs became more and more abstract. Even if, for example, the floral element is still recognizable in the decor , there remains only a "lines play" which is adapted to the shape and the proportions of the object and which place emphasizes on the form. The transition to another, new style of art was initiated.

In Mettlach this new development in new stylistic directions was recognized too and if you look at the sales catalog of 1899 you can see that one incorporated the new into the decors. The new artistic influence was particularly noticeable in the motifs of the wall plates and vases - the punch bowls and jugs still retaining the old style of Historism.

Finally, it can be said that from 1885 to 1910 Mettlach evolved from historicism in all its different facets to art nouveau up to a completely abstract geometric decor and had a great success with that.  

In addition to the own local employees which were trained in Mettlach in the own drawing school, the management of Villeroy & Boch also engaged great personalities (freelancer) to work for Mettlach. This and the high technical quality of the Mettlacher ceramics helped the company to become well-known worldwide.

Style elements of the time, mirrored on specific Mettlacher products

  • Antique -> Wall Plate #2199 , designed by Heinrich Schlitt , styles: color combination and motifs
  • Neo-Klassizmus - -> Wandteller #2443 , signed by Jean-Baptiste Stahl , phanolite and camee-like , reliefed ceramic
  • Neo-Rococo -> Punch-Bowle #2088 , signed by Heinrich Schlitt, stylized element: shell-shaped border
  • Early Renaissance -> Nautilus Pitcher #1123 , emerged in the 1880s
  • Neo-Renaissance - - > Can #1169 , from the 1880s, sublime decor and imitation of 400 years old silver cans
  • Neo-Gothic -> Kölner Dombecher, 1843-47
  • Far East -> Wall Plate #2560 , styles: graphic design of the landscape, delicate colors and Japanese cherry trees
  • Fine Art Nouveau -> Can #2098 and Vases #2909 and #2976 , styles: peonies, adaption of the flexible line decor to the elegant form
  • Fatherland love -> Krug #2097 , designed by Otto Hupp , musically inspired decor and wall plate #2080 , signed by Alfred Stöcke
  • Japanism -> Plate #1707 , styles: choice of colors, adaptation of the decor to the form, dragon motif
  • Art Nouveau (abstract) -> Bierkrug #3321 , strongly geometric decor from the years around 1907-1910


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1. Mettlacher Turm (Ausgabe November 1978 / Nr. 5): Vereinszeitschrift des Mettlacher Steinzeugsammler Vereins, Artikel: Dr. Therese Thomas - Art Nouveau Steinzeug in Mettlach

2. Mettlacher Turm (Ausgabe Dezember 1997 / Nr. 72): Vereinszeitschrift des Mettlacher Steinzeugsammler Vereins, Artikel: Dr. Therese Thomas - Mettlacher Steinzeug: Eine Stilgeschichte

3. Dr. Therse Thomas: Die Rolle der Familien Boch und Villeroy im 18. und 19. Jahrhundert, Doktorarbeit, Saarbrücken 1974, Seite 121-162

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