Mettlach Artist Fritz Quidenus*

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.

Mettlach 2441
Mettlach 2501
Mettlach 2531
Mettlach 2581
Mettlach 2582

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.

Quidenus was born on February 10, 1867, in Freudenthal, Czechoslovakia, and settled in Munich in 1891. Here, he became a member of the Association of German Illustrators, which suggests — as his work for Villeroy & Boch demonstrates — that Quidenus was a talented draftsman with a gift for narrative illustration, and an artist who was not averse to turning his hand to the design of colorful scenes for Villeroy & Boch stoneware. He can therefore be grouped with other gifted contemporary Munich designers and illustrators such as Franz von Stuck, Ludwig Hohlwein and Franz Ringer, whose humorous designs for the Mettlach firm provide brilliant proof of the liveliness and quality of popular art in Munich at this time.

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.