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    Viktor Schreckengost (American, 1906-2008)
    A Fourteen-Piece Peasant Ware Partial Service, 1932
    Glazed and gilt ceramic
    13-1/4 inches diameter (33.7 cm) (chop plate)
    Chop paint-signed to underside: VIKTOR SCHRECKENGOST

    The lot comprising:
    1 chop plate;
    3 dinner plates;
    4 bread and butter plates;
    4 saucers;
    2 teacups.
    14 Total.

    H. Adams, Viktor Schreckengost and 20th-Century Design, Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio, 2000, pp. 99-101;
    H. Adams, Viktor Schreckengost: American Da Vinci, Tide-Mark Press LTD., Windsor, Connecticut, 2006, pp. 132-4, 134 illustrated.

    After Cowan Pottery closed in December 1931 owing to the disastrous effects of the Depression, twenty-six-year-old Viktor Schreckengost--who had just that year produced the now-iconic Jazz Bowl for Cowan-- began to focus his attention not so much on embellishing established pottery forms as he had a Cowan, but rather upon introducing modern design to commercial American dinnerware. In the fall of 1932, he set up a pottery studio with his brothers in Sebring, and around the same time was approached by the Sebring-based American Limoges China Company about his dinnerware design ideas. American Limoges, like Cowan, was struggling in the horrendous economic climate, and they needed something new, eye-catching and popular that would save them from the same fate. They had never hired a trained artist before they invited Viktor to work for them.

    Viktor was not interested in designing reheated versions of traditional and historical European dinnerware models. He sought to develop a fresh, contemporary look to a line of dinnerware that would still have wide appeal to the middle-class market. In 1932, his initial proposal for a new line of dinnerware was what he termed Peasant Ware. The shape of all the forms in the set, whether flatware (such as plates and saucers) or hollow ware (cups, bowls and pitchers), is extremely simple and pure. The most notable feature of Peasant Ware are the irregular grooves describing the surface of the vessels, which gives them a handmade, wheel-thrown appearance even though the forms are actually jiggered / cast. The handles of the cups are notable because they, too, have a geometric purity: they are nearly perfect circles that connect, without a transitional element, directly into the side of the vessel. In many ways, Viktor's conception for Peasant Ware derived from his intensive training throwing and hand-building vessels in Vienna, which emphasized rather than masked the inherent properties of clay and the way it is worked into form. Unfortunately, Peasant Ware was either too radical, too expensive to produce, or perhaps a combination of both for the American Limoges executives to entertain putting into full production. They did, however, produce some samples in oyster white, this gunmetal black/gray, and some with additions of color. This partial set is signed by Viktor himself, which strongly suggests it was something he actually made. Henry Adams has noted that examples in gunmetal and oyster white were exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in a dining room designed by Donald Deskey (Adams, 2000, p. 100). Interestingly, Viktor was far ahead of his time in conceiving this concept for a hand-made looking dinnerware service. It would be well into the later 1960s that Americans began embracing the aesthetic of nature, complete with irregularities and imperfections that signaled the human touch, rather than the super-sleek machine aesthetic.

    Undaunted in 1932, Viktor Schreckengost came back to the table at American Limoges with designs for the Americana and Manhattan shapes which were very similar in style and shape to the Peasant Ware, but more streamlined, and without the grooves (making Viktor-designed decal application--a marketing strategy--possible). The public response was overwhelmingly positive and led to a long and lucrative association between American Limoges and Viktor.

    Condition Report*: Lot includes one broken dinner plate (not included in the 14-piece count), very minor wear to the gilt decoration, otherwise all are in good condition.
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. Heritage does not guarantee the condition of frames and shall not be liable for any damage/scratches to frames, glass/acrylic coverings, original boxes, display accessories, or art that has slipped in frames. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    May, 2016
    13th Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 6
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,092

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