by Beate Dry-v. Zezschwitz
The name of Fritz Quidenus will not be unknown to collectors of Mettlach stoneware. Anton Post mentions Quidenus in his book, Mettlacher Steinzeug 1885-1905 (Saarwellingen 1976), page 15, as one of the artists designing for Villeroy & Boch during this period, and lists 12 steins and plaques Quidenus is known to have decorated. Five of the steins are pictured below.
Post states, somewhat misleadingly, that Quidenus was “mainly active in stoneware decoration at Mettlach.” This seems to suggest that this artist was resident in Mettlach as an employee of Villeroy & Boch. The assumption is quite understandable, as Quidenus is listed in none of the standard dictionaries of artists, such as Thieme-Becker or Bénézit, which list the names and describe the works of even the most minor figures in the fields of painting and sculpture. The omission of the elusive Quidenus and at the same time his well-known activity for Villeroy & Boch would therefore seem to indicate that he was an artist who worked only for the Mettlach firm, was consequently unknown outside the factory walls and who for this reason escaped the attention of all chroniclers of art.
New information on Quidenus, published here for the first time, proves the artist was not, in fact, a resident in Mettlach at the turn of the century, but was living at the time in Munich, Bavaria, as a professional painter and illustrator.
In 1913, Fritz Quidenus moved outside of Munich to Oberschleissheim, not far from Schloss Schleissheim, the famous summer residence of the Kings of Bavaria, which can still be visited today. He died there on February 28th, 1928.
As a little-known example of his work, we illustrate here his Jugendstil book-binding design for Reinhard Volker’s Lieder (Songs), which was published in about 1904 by the Munich firm of Braun and Schneider — the publishers of the well-known satirical magazine, Fliegende Blätter. The artist’s initials can be seen prominently in the lower left-hand corner of the design, which was printed in yellow, green and black on white cloth. The illustration itself refers to the very first song in the collection, entitled “März” (March), in which a first blackbird of spring sings in a laburnum tree.
*Reprinted by permission from Prosit, the Journal of Stein Collectors International, Issue No. 82, December 1985.
Editors Note: The five color beer stein photographs shown here replace the black and white photographs originally appearing with this article.