This piece of fabric, known Fälter (butterfly), was designed by Mathilda Flögl (1893-1958), who worked in the textile department of the Wiener Werkstätte in Vienna. It is a remnant of the fabric that was used to make a bedspread for Karl and Slawa’s bed in their Vienna apartment where it lay decoratively over a gold brocade eiderdown. The purchase demonstrated Slawa’s interest in and knowledge of modern design and her commitment to the idea of enriching everyday life with beautiful objects, a principal of the Viennese Secession.
Following the Duldigs removal from Vienna, the original bedspread and remnant were safeguarded and preserved by Slawa’s sister, Rella, in the basement of her Paris apartment. In 1948 the bedspread and this remnant were sent to Australia. The bedspread was a much-loved item but deteriorated over the years. In 1955 it was made into curtains, which are held in the Duldig Studio Collection. The Photographs of the bedspread in its original location are also held in the collection. The remnant is in pristine condition.
The Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna Workshop) was a guild of designers and craftsmen that was founded by the architect Josef Hoffman (1879-1956) and the designer Koloman Moser (1868-1918). The firm manufactured a range of interior furnishings between 1903 and 1932. The textile department opened in 1900, and produced about 1,800 designs, mainly for printed fabrics for furnishings and apparel. The designs were characterised by simplified forms and vivid colours, and inspired by Eastern European peasant art and geometric motifs in contemporary painting. The workshop had a profound impact of European art and design, and its work is still celebrated today.
Mathilde Flögl was born in the Czech Republic in 1893, and studied at the Kunstgerwerbeschule in Vienna. In 1916 she began working at the Weiner Werkstätte, and where she designed more than 120 textile patterns. This fabric Fälter or Butterfly was designed in 1924. The butterfly was a favourite motif of Flögl. In this design she plays with a variety of whimsical abstractions and arrangement of both the butterfly and the snail on a background of abstract colour stripes and blocks.
Ann Carew 2016
The fabric is of great aesthetic interest as an example of the work of the Viennese workshops, and the noted designer textile designer Mathilde Flögl. The original pencil drawings, pencil and gouache designs, and fabric swatches for Fälter are held in the MAK Museum in Vienna, and the Victorian and Albert Museum in London have a sample of piece of the silk fabric in an alternate colour wave. The Museum of Applied Arts in Sydney holds a swatch book of textiles from the Wiener Werkstätte, however Flögl’s work is not represented. The National Gallery of Victoria holds a similar swatch book. The remnant has an excellent provenance, is associated with a powerful personal narrative, and is significant and rare item relating to history of the Wiener Werkstätte in Vienna, and the oeuvre of Matilda Flögl.
Ann Carew 2016
Remnant of a block-printed silk fabric used to make the bedspread for Karl Duldig and Slawa Horowitz-Duldig's bed in Vienna.