Amphora and RStK – Riessner, Stellmacher and Kessel
On October 11, 1837 in the small town of Steinheid, Thuringia, Alfred Stellmacher was born. He worked in ceramic factories in the area and mastered his craft.
He founded his first porcelain factory in Turn in 1876. The factory produced porcelain flowers which surpassed French pieces for quality. During the 1870’s, Stellmacher developed a new ceramic material which became known as ivory porcelain due to its soft yellowish shade and matte finish. The new material allowed the ceramist to create more complex modeling and detailing of shapes and applied designs.
Stellmacher’s factory broadened production from flowers to decorative ceramic pieces in the Orientalism and Neo-Baroque styles. Neo-Baroque forms allowed greater innovations in design with handles shaped like monsters and pierced or waved bases and rims.
At the Paris World Exhibition in 1889, Stellmacher received the Gold Medal, and he attained his greatest success at the end of the 19 th century.
In 1892, the Riessner, Stellmacher & Kessel (RStK) porcelain factory started production in Turn. Alfred Stellmacher helped form the new company. All the owners were related to Alfred. Karl and Hans Riessner and Rudolf Kessel were his son-in- laws and Eduard Stellmacher was his son. Karl Riessner, who attended the Art Academy in Prague handled finances, Hans Riessner, who attended the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts the same time as Gustav Klimt, was technical director, and Rudolf Kessel handled trading issues. Eduard Stellmacher, who attended the Arts and Crafts Academy in Dresden, was the artistic director. Eduard’s brother-in- law and classmate from the Arts and Crafts Academy in Dresden, Paul Dachsel, was also a creative designer for Amphora. The new company was known as Amphora I.
Amphora’s goal was to create luxury porcelain objects. A collection from the company received the highest award at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago and in the same year received the Gold Medal at the San Francisco Exhibition. This led to increased sales in the U.S. and by 1894 Amphora opened a second factory that produced terra-cotta items. Amphora sales grew in Europe and England as well. In 1895, they opened a third factory which produced faience, decorated earthenware vases, jars, and earthenware figurines and vases with animals. Starting in the late 1890’s the Art Nouveau style was evident in the designs of Eduard Stellmacher and Paul Dachsel. Amphora collections received countless awards from 1893 through 1904.
After 1904, the main artistic designers, Paul Dachsel and Eduard Stellmacher left the company to start their own separate firms. Hans Riessner was left to head up artistic design and developed the Gres-Bijou series, but the company would never produce the high quality ceramics it had from 1895 to 1904; however the company continued to be run by Alfred Stellmacher’s progeny until it was nationalized by the Czechoslovakian government in 1945.