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Photo credit: Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University

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Title: Liqueur set
Date: ca. 1928
Medium: Ceramic
Dimensions: Part a (pitcher): 9 × 6 1/4 × 5 inches (22.9 × 15.9 × 12.7 cm) Parts b through f (cups): 2 1/8 × 1 9/16 inches diameter (5.4 × 4 cm) Part g (tray): 11/16 × 13 × 5 1/2 inches (1.7 × 33 × 14 cm)
Credit Line: Gift of Isabel and William Berley, Classes of 1947 and 1945
Object Number: 99.078.136 a-g
The beverage set was made when the artist worked as a designer for the factory Schramberger Majolika Fabrik in Schramberg, Germany. Schramberger Majolika Fabrik was the first ceramic manufacturer in Warttemberg, Germany, and was founded in 1820. In 1912, the factory was sold to brothers Moritz and Leopold Meyer. The Meyer brothers actively looked for new designs by artists influenced by the Art Nouveau and Art Deco movements. Eva Zeisel was one of the most prominent designers in the factory.

Eva Stricker Zeisel was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1906. In 1923 Zeisel entered the Royal Academy to study painting. Around 1924 she apprenticed at Karapanscik’s Pottery, and later became the first female member of the Hungarian Guild of Chimney Sweeps, Oven Makers, Roof Tilers, Well Diggers & Potters. By 1926 Zeisel began working as a freelance designer for Kipster-Granit Earthenware Factory in Budapest. She also worked at Schramberger Majolica Fabrik in Germany, where she designed household items, including this beverage set. Her prolific career took her throughout Europe and the United States; she worked as a ceramicist and industrial designer for over eighty years. She is known for her sculptural pieces with round and biomorphic shapes, some of which are still reproduced today. Her works are in permanent collections of various museums worldwide, such as the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum, and the British Museum.

The beverage set is an industrial product made for mass production and consumption. Like many of Zeisel’s designs it is made in modular forms, making it space saving and easy to store.

This beverage set was made during the early phase of Zeisel’s design career. The geometric pattern on this ceramic set is reminiscent of the work of Theo van Doesburg, founder of the De Stijl movement. In addition to the De Stijl movement and the Bauhaus aesthetic, Zeisel was deeply influenced by modern architecture. The Hungarian folk arts Zeisel was exposed to as a child also contributed to her sense of form and color. Zeisel once described her designs: “I don’t create angular things. I’m a more circular person… even the air between my hands is round.” The geometric designs on the round forms of the beverage set serve as artistic contrast and demonstrate Zeisel’s excellence in embracing both geometric forms and biomorphic shapes.

NOTE: This electronic record is compiled from historic documentation which may not reflect the Johnson Museum's complete or current knowledge of the object. Review and refinement of such records is ongoing.