Art Nouveau Jewellery from Pforzheim

Book  /  DesignHistoryArnoldsche
Published: 16.02.2010
Art Nouveau Jewellery from Pforzheim.
Fritz Falk
Edited by:
Arnoldsche Art publishers
Edited at:
Edited on:
Technical data:
328 pages, Hardcover with dust jacket, approx. 700 colour illustrations, text in English and German, 22 x 28.5 cm
from $62.05

Hitherto unpublished contemporary sources, astonishing finds of original design drawings and sample books along with nearly 500 pieces of jewellery — which the author has discovered in museums, private collections and on the art market and is now able to attribute to specific designers and makers — provide exciting insights into a period that was brief yet intensely productive for the Pforzheim jewellery industry.
Caught up in optimistic new departures, the Pforzheim jewellery industry, which had been in existence since 1767, was in its heyday around 1900. Nearly five hundred jewellery manufacturers, workshops and studios were producing thousands of pieces of jewellery a day for sale worldwide through a ramified network of marketing and distribution channels. A high point of this was Pforzheim’s participation in the 1900 Paris World Exhibition, where innovative Pforzheim firms — including Theodor Fahrner, Gebrüder Falk and F. Zerrenner — publicly demonstrated their capabilities in a stunning collective exhibition.

The years between 1898 and 1908 saw Pforzheim primarily producing Art Nouveau jewellery featuring sophisticated manufacturing techniques. Today these pieces are much sought-after collector’s items. For all the formal influences assimilated from French Art Nouveau, the stylistic autonomy of Pforzheim Jugendstil was ensured by collaboration between firms based in the “Gold City” and professors who taught at the Pforzheim Applied Arts School (Georg Kleemann, Emil Riester, Fritz Wolber) as well as members of the Darmstadt Mathildenhöhe artists’ colony (Ludwig Habich, Patriz Huber, Christian Ferdinand Morawe). Inspiration from the Munich, Stuttgart and Vienna art centres also played a role in shaping Pforzheim Art Nouveau.

The author has brought off a first: a publication that sheds brilliant light on the situation specific to the Pforzheim jewellery industry in 1900. Who were the founders and proprietors of the firms that were so successful then? Who were the designers who so prolifically came up with new designs and countless variations on them? How were relations between Pforzheim and Paris, which, after all, was a source of inspiration to the Pforzheim jewellery manufacturers? 

Text in german & English