Musée d'Orsay: Richard Riemerschmid Candlestick

Richard Riemerschmid

Richard Riemerschmid (1868-1957), Vereinigte Werkstätten für Kunst im Handwerk, Munich
Model created in 1897
H. 35.8 ; D. 16 cm
© ADAGP, Paris © RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Franck Raux


Bougeoir [Candlestick]

In 1897, Richard Riemerschmid decided to abandon his career as a painter in order to concentrate exclusively on "design" and architecture. Wishing to play his part in creating a framework for "modern life", he joined the Vereinigte Werkstätten für Kunst im Handwerk (United Workshops for Art in Craft) early in his career. These workshops had a very pragmatic aim: to offer artists, artisans and manufacturers interested in contemporary German production, the option of working together within a structure which could respond to the technical and financial issues of such a production. Whether their means of production was through craftsmanship or an industrial process, whether its clientele was rich or not did not matter to them. Only the quality of the final product counted.

This model for a candlestick featured among the first of Riemerschmid's productions in the field of the decorative arts, but it was also one of the early examples of the Jugendstil, the Art Nouveau of Munich.
The shape of this object combines suppleness and sobriety. Possibly based on a plant model, only the allusion to its development and its growth is retained. Riemerschmid was seeking to restore the idea of the living object, and, unlike the Scottish and Viennese experiments of the time, he rejected the straight line. An elongated stem rises from a swirling, circular base, its vigorous dynamism unhindered by any detail until the final flower bud.

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