The Crafts School

In the part of the permanent display devoted to the Crafts School, which had an important role in the development of the fine crafts in Croatia, we show works of pupils who attended the carpentry, ceramics and locksmith departments as well as works of Croatian craftsmen.

In the year of the foundation of the Crafts School 1882, tuition started in the carpentry and locksmith (metalworking) department, and two years later the ceramic department was found; in 1892 the building school started working. Objects were often made to drawings by Herman Bollé, for many years the director of the school, such as the parts of a dining room suite on display – credenza and clock – which were made to his drawings by Ivan Budicki, first teacher of the skill of carpentering at the Crafts School.

A wardrobe and chair – parts of a bedroom suite – are the work of the carpenter Dragutin Turković from Ðakovo. The set was exhibited in its entirety at the Millennium Exhibition in Budapest 1896. Both sets are decorated with stylised folk ornamentation, while the dining room set also shows Art Nouveau floral motifs. The work of the Crafts School is additionally represented by a round occasional table with a stoneware top decorated in enamel paints.

The ceramic department, that is, the course for potting and the course for decorative painting on ceramic ware, was founded at the Crafts School in 1884. The objects created in this department in the eight years of its work tell of the high quality organisation of tuition: from the very beginning the ceramic decoration course was run by the academy trained painter from Vienna Josip Bauer, and the potting department was in the first few years confided to the well-known Zagreb stove-maker Ivan Pospišil. The school worked with teachers of the Crafts School in Znaim in Moravia and with experts from Kremnica or Kremnitz in Slovakia. Also important was the collaboration with the Zagreb factory of Josip Kallina and the Ludwig Schütz factory from Liboje near Celje: along with painting vessels formed in the potting course, the attendees of the course for decorative painting on ceramics with enamel paints also decorated half-finished products obtained from the Schütz and Kallina factories.

In spite of the successes the ceramics department won at exhibitions (in Zagreb and Budapest) and irrespective of the first more substantial orders, in 1892, for financial reasons, the provincial government abolished the department. A large group of objects created in the ceramic department of the Crafts School was acquired by the Museum of Arts and Crafts in 1909.

The permanent display features objects that illustrate the formal diversity of products of the ceramic department – from a set for beer and vases to round tops for occasional tables and decorative platters that are distinguished by a wealth of decorative motifs done in brilliant enamel paints and contoured in gold. From the archival sources it is known that Bollé did the drawings for the shapes of the pots and for their decoration; the neo-style forms of the vessels are decorated with folk, oriental and neo-Renaissance motifs. Some of the exhibits on show bear the signatures of pupils attending the ceramics department: of Ivan Štefan, Ivan Kociančić and Sofija Zapletal.

From the metals craftsmen who taught at the Crafts School a special place belongs to the Zagreb master craftsman Antun Mesić, first teacher in “lockmaking” and “smithing”. We can learn something about the quality of the school and its workshops from some of the most important symbols of today in Zagreb, such as the bandstand (Music Pavilion) in Zrinjevac, also the work of master craftsmen and pupils of the Crafts School. Some of the works on show are done after drawings by Herman Bollé, such as a polychromed grating of wrought iron, characteristic work of the pupils of the metalworking department of the school. An identical grid, without the poly-chroming however, is today on the entry door of the Applied Arts and Design School.

Tools for wrought iron working and samples of wrought iron applied on a panel in a wooden frame are original exhibits from the Millennium Exhibition in Budapest of 1896, at which the Crafts School had its own separate part. An exhibit at the same show was the mirror frame by master craftsman Božidar Devide, architectural and artistic metalworker. The exhibited polychrome pendant light of wrought iron, also a work from the Crafts School, is a gift to the Museum by Herman Bollé.