Joseph Maria Olbrich
Austrian, 1867 - 1908
Mantel clock, c.1899

H. 20 x W. 15 x D. 7 1/2 in.

In turn-of-the-century Vienna, it was OttoWagner and his gifted students, Josef Hoffmann and Josef Olbrich, who led the attempt to modernize architecture and interior furnishings.

All three were founding members of the Vienna Secession, which broke away from the ultraconservative Kunstlerhaus in May, 1897. Olbrich was chosen to design their celebrated exhibition hall (kunsthalle) renowned for its large spiracle cupola of openwork leaves. Completely restored, the building is still used for art exhibitions and has become a famous Vienna landmark.

Although undulating, Olbrich's early style (1898-1904) is unfailingly anchored in solid architectural forms as seen in this mantel clock. Its curvaceous lines, distinctive numerals and oval pendulum opening are his familiar hallmarks. The clock was but one element of a totally harmonized interior created for the apartment of Dr. Frederick Spiker in Vienna. As with his contemporaries, especially Hoffmann, Frank Lloyd Wright and Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Olbrich aspired to a unified integration of an interior and its furnishings.