The very earliest acquisitions of ceramics for the Museum of Arts and Crafts, recorded even before the official founding of the Museum, heralded the future diversity and richness of the great collection. Such an approach in the formation of the collection and its current profile is shown in the selection of objects for the permanent display of the Museum. Most of the objects were in use in Croatia. A central place in the study collection goes to the biggest and most complete sub-collection – the porcelain of European manufactories. The oldest European works, that of Meissen, is represented with dishes and figures among which pieces ascribed to Johann Joachim Kaendler, the best known modeller in the manufactory, stand out. A breakfast set painted with war scenes the protagonists of which are the pandurs of Baron Franjo Trenk have a great value in terms of art and culture history. The author of the scenes was probably the painter of the Meissen works Christian Friedrich Kühnel, and for his originals he took prints by Martin Engelbrecht. The service itself was acquired for the Museum’s collection successively between 1885 and 1895. In the study collection of porcelain, items from the Vienna manufactory are numerically dominant. Its history can be followed in the exhibits: from objects created in the first years of its work (“the Du Paquier period”) to the lavishly decorated objects of the first half of the 19th century. The label of most valuable exhibit in the group goes to a mug of 1721, one of the few signed products of the earliest period of the Vienna manufactory. Apart from the products of Vienna and Meissen, the study collection also shows objects created in the second half of the 18th and in the early 19th century in the well-known German manufactories in Berlin, Höchst, Nymphenburg and Frankenthal, as well as the products of the Naples manufactory. A small but valuable group consists of French porcelain from the royal manufactory at Sèvres and objects produced in the Paris manufactories. The richness of the porcelain sub-collection is illustrated by objects made in Denmark, Bohemia and Russia during Historicism and Art Nouveau.
The majolica sub-collection has objects produced from the 15th to the 18th century in Italian manufactories in Faenza, Savona, Pesaro, Venice, Urbino and Castelli. The group of products of southern European majolica makers in the study collection is complemented by Spanish tiles, a platter of Puente del Arzobispo and a Portuguese blue and white platter from the 17th century. The set-up of the study collection enables them to be compared with the contemporaneous productions of western and central Europe: with jugs of German manufactories made of faience and stoneware, with Delft vases, stove tiles and tiles, with attractive products from the manufactory in Holič and Habaner Ware.
The popularity on the market and the availability of stoneware products at the end of he 18th and in the 19th century determined how much these objects were represented in the study collection. Along with examples of Italian, Austrian and French production, numerous items made in England are shown in the study collection. Apart from parts of a dinner service produced in Wedgwood and individual pieces from Davenport, a special place in the group belongs to a plate made in the Wedgwood works at the order of sea captain Ivan Ivanošić (Gio Ivanosich) in about 1784.
The group of products of jasperware from Wedgwood was obtained for the Museum in 1907 from Levin pl. Horvat, Zagreb collector. Most of the objects are shown today in the study collection.
The Croatian stoneware manufactories in Krapina (founded about 1800) and Zagreb (1828) are represented in the study collection by items that illustrate both the quality of the product and the wide variety of forms and ornaments. In 1884 the production in Zagreb was taken over by Josip Kallina; the work of Kallina’s factory is represented in the display by attractive dishes and Art Nouveau stove tiles.
The sub-collection of modern ceramics counts about 1000 pieces by foreign and Croatian artists, created during the last eight decades, making the Museum the custodian of the most valuable collection of modern and contemporary ceramics in the country. Sixty three works by Croatian artists are shown in the study collection – of ceramics artists, but also of painters and sculptors who worked in this medium. The works of Hinko Juhn, Jelena Babić and Lujo Bezeredi of the 1920s tell of the very high artistic levels achieved by the pioneers of Croatian ceramic art. In the same period there were ceramic sculptures, created by painters Ernest Tomašević, Nevenka Ðorđević, Oton Postružnik and Ivan Tabaković. Ceramics artists Blanka Dužanec, Marta Plazzeriano, Vlasta Baranyai and Stella Skopal were trained and did additional studies abroad. In this section of the study collection we show pieces that bear the typical characteristics of their individual creative styles. The study collection also shows works of contemporary Croatian ceramicists – from members of the middle and older generation (Zlata Radej, Seka Severin-Tudja, Ljerka Njerš, Dora Pezić-Mijatović) to representatives of new rends in the art of ceramic design (Denis Licul).