Is it Amphora or Teplitz?:
You may know amphora as a type of large two-handled Grecian vase originally designed for storage. But the name Amphora also refers to art pottery produced in the Turn-Teplitz region of Bohemia during the Art Nouveau era. These wares are referred to by dealers and collectors as “Teplitz” from time to time as well.
The Best Amphora Works:
The first Amphora manufacturer was Reissner, Stellmacher & Kessel using a red “R St. K” mark beginning in 1892. The company was founded by Alfred Stellmacher. Combining unusual shapes with striking glazes, this company is recognized as the best in Amphora although there were many other manufacturers of ceramic wares in the Turn-Teplitz area by 1900. R. St. K.’s work was introduced in the U.S. in 1893 at the Chicago World’s Fair where they were awarded “best in show." Their display at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904 also earned high accolades.
Amphora Influences and Wares:
The art pottery vases crafted by R. St. K. are said to have competed with Grueby and Rookwood produced during the same time frame, but Amphora is noted for more elaborate and flowing Art Nouveau influences. One particular style associated with Amphora is the “drop edge candle vase” now highly prized by collectors. Many Amphora pieces included snakes, brightly plumed birds, and even mythical dragons woven cleverly into their designs.
In addition to many elaborate vases, Amphora artistry refers to intricately-crafted female busts as well. These pieces reflected the finest of craftsmanship and the most intricate of detailing. The larger busts were expensive even by early 20th century standards so fewer were produced compared to smaller pieces. For collectors today, this makes them harder to find and more highly prized. Finding them without some type of damage to their finely-crafted detail more than 100 years later also adds to their value.
Artist Signed Pieces:
One of the recognized artists working in the Turn-Teplitz region was Paul Dachsel, son-in-law of Alfred Stellmacher, who decorated works leaving the R. St. K factory from 1892 through 1905. These were sometimes marked PD in addition to the factory marks used at the time, and pieces with Dachsel’s signature have their own following in collecting circles. He left R. St. K. in 1905 to start is own company.
Other Influences in the Turn-Teplitz Region:
The Turn-Teplitz area of Bohemia drew on the rich tradition of fine ceramic wares made in nearby Dresden, Germany. In addition, The Imperial Technical School for Ceramics & Associated Applied Arts not only produced beautiful ceramic wares beginning in 1885, but trained many of the Amphora artists who worked in the area through 1917 when the school closed. Students learned complex clay manipulation that incorporated nature-inspired Art Nouveau themes as well as decorative arts and design.
Learn More About Amphora and Other Art Nouveau Wares:
A good reference for boning up on knowledge about the Art Nouveau era and more on Amphora manufacturers and designs is Art Nouveau, 1890-1914 by Paul Greenhalgh. You can also try to hunt down a copy of the out of print title Monsters and Maidens - Amphora Pottery of the Art Nouveau Era by Byron Vreeland.