Stylish Secessionist “Tango” glass vase designed by Michael Powolny for Loetz c1915. Angular body with elongated cylindrical neck. Yellow-orange body with raised, black vertical stripes and applied black rim. Polished pontil mark to the base. Loetz shape PN II-5231 – part of a range of designs by Michael Powolny for the 1914 Cologne exhibition of the Austrian Werkbund. The vase is 19.5 cm in height.
Michael Powolny (1871-1954) served his apprenticeship in his father's workshop until his father's death. From 1894 to 1901 he attended the Vienna School of Applied Arts. In 1906 along with Bertold Löffler he founded the Wiener Keramik workshop, that became part of the Wiener Werkstätte (the Secessionist Vienna Workshop founded by Josef Hoffman and Koloman Moser) a year later. Hoffman later hired Powolny to create ceramic ornamentation for his architectural masterpiece, the Palais Stoclet in Brussels. He became a professor at the School of Applied Arts, where he taught both Lucie Rie, the renown Austrian-British modernist ceramicist, and the American potter Viktor Schreckengost, creator of the “Jazz Bowl”.
Johann Loetz was a glassmaker about whom little is known. It was his widow Susanne who was the start of Loetz after her second husband (Frank Gerstner) bought a glassworks in Southern Bohemian – transferring ownership to her shortly before his death in 1855. Susanne successfully led and expanded the company (known as Johann Loetz Witwe) – passing it to her son-in-law (Maximilian von Spaun) in 1879. He modernised the factory and introduced new patented techniques and processes. Maximilian first saw Tiffany’s Favrile glass exhibited in Bohemia and Vienna in 1897 - convincing him that the Art Nouveau style would be the company's future. The next decade was to be the most artistically significant and profitable period for Loetz. However, despite further artistic collaborations and new designs, sales started to decline in the 1900’s and by 1911 Loetz needed additional funds from the von Spaun family. The departure of Loetz's artistic director in 1913 followed by a major fire and the outbreak of WWI virtually sealed the company's fate. Loetz had a slight but brief revival after the war however the Great Depression in the late 1920s and another major fire in 1930 had a devastating impact and Loetz declared bankruptcy in 1939 following the German invasion of Czechoslovakia. The glassworks manufactured utilitarian glassware for the Third Reich throughout WWII, but ultimately closed down completely in 1947.