In the 20th century, Swedish and Danish potteries produced both tableware and art pottery for their customers. In general, pieces produced in Sweden in the first half of the century have strong Art Nouveau and Art Deco influences, while Danish ceramics had a modernist aesthetic even before the Mid-century Modern movement took hold after World War II.

The largest ceramics factory in Sweden was Gustavsberg, whose leading designer at the end of the 19th and through the first half of the 20th centuries was Josef Ekberg. Early Ekberg vases featured floral and Art Nouveau decorations using the sgrafitto technique. Later pieces from the 1920s had less decoration but were often fired in iridescent glazes.

Ekberg’s protege, Wilhelm Kage, is known for his tall, geometric spindle vases, which sit on incised bases resembling small inverted flower pots. Even more modernist was the work of Berndt Friberg and Stig Lindberg, but Gustavsberg’s most recognized designer is undoubtedly Lisa Larson, who produced stoneware menageries of domestic, farm, and wild animals for the company from 1954 to 1980. Today, Larson and her assistants continue to make work from her studio.

The other major Swedish pottery was Rorstrand, whose stoneware from the 1940s and ’50s by Gunnar Nylund evolved from Art Deco-inspired pieces to the biomorphic sloped bowls and bulbous vases for which Rorstrand is so renowned. Another mid-century Rorstrand designer, Carl-Harry Stalhane pursued a more geometric look, producing vases in the 1950s that, in hindsight, resemble the shapes of NASA landing modules in the 1960s.

The tradition of art pottery in Denmark is even stronger. Factories such as Royal Copenhagen and Bing & Grondahl employed designers such as Axel Salto, who worked for both firms, although his “Budding” and gourd-shaped pieces from the 1930s at Royal Copenhagen are perhaps his best known. Nils Thorsson spent more than 60 years at Royal Copenhagen, designing the Marselis line in the 1950s for the factory’s parent company, Aluminia.

One of the most sought-after brands of Danish art pottery are the vases and bowls produced between 1930 and 1968 by Saxbo, which was founded by Nathalie Krebs. A former glaze chemist at Bing & Grondahl, Krebs relied on Eva Staehr-Nielsen to devise many of Saxbo’s elegant forms, which ranged from bottle vases to star-shape bowls. Leon Galetto was known for his cylinder vases with relief triangles on their sides, while Eric Rahr designed asymmetrical pieces.

Another Danish pottery pioneer was Arne Bang, who took a sculptural approach to his pieces. His vases were ribbed, pinched, and flared, and he would sometimes place the handles of organic-looking vessels in random places, giving what should have been a traditional piece an abstract aura. But one of the biggest magnets for Scandinavian ceramists, from Gunnar Nylund to Axel Bruehl, was Nymolle, which was known in the postwar years for its biomorphic vessels and vases, as well as its slender and tapered cylinders with harlequin glaze patterns and dramatic collared necks.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

The Mid Century Modernist

The Mid Century Modernist

Stephen Coles' really visual blog dedicated to the Modernist era of design from 1940 to 1970 (aka Mid-century Moder… [read review or visit site]

Gouda Design

Gouda Design

Stuart Lonsdale and Kim Lindley's excellent tribute to and reference on Gouda Dutch Art Pottery and Delftware. The … [read review or visit site]

Cowan Pottery Museum Associates

Cowan Pottery Museum Associates

Dedicated to raising awareness of the ceramic art work of R. Guy Cowan and his Cowan Pottery Studio in northeastern… [read review or visit site]

Herman Miller Consortium Collection

Herman Miller Consortium Collection

This website showcases several hundred pieces of furniture, held by thirteen museums, that were designed for Herman… [read review or visit site]

The Pottery Studio

The Pottery Studio

This 7,000-plus page site lives up to its self-billing as a 'knowledge base' with examples of work from all major a… [read review or visit site]

EamesCollector.com

EamesCollector.com

Steven Cabella's personal homage to Charles and Ray Eames. This site is as clean and visually appealing as the Eame… [read review or visit site]

Work of Charles and Ray Eames

Work of Charles and Ray Eames

This Library of Congress microsite is an overview of the postwar modern design work of Charles (1907-78) and Ray (1… [read review or visit site]

Classic Modern

Classic Modern

Get a taste of how homes were lit in the 50s, 60s, and 70s with the Danish retro-style lighting designs featured on… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

3 Fine Scandinavian Miniature Vases Rorstrand Carl Harry Stalhane Gunnar NylundNeat! Modernist Large Swedish Textured Ceramic Rorstrand Vase By Gunnar Nylund Nils Thorsson Tile #1, Royal Copenhagen Denmark Baca Danish ModernStig Lindberg (gustavsberg Studio) ~ Large Blue & White Leaf Salad Bowl ~ SwedenRorstrand Sweden Picknick Grouping Of 7 Items By Marraine Westmann 1950'sFine Eigil Hinrichsen Studio Pottery Cabinet Vase Denmark Mid Century ModernRorstrand "picknick" Ceramic Trivet/ Board No 29 Ovenware Handpainted SwedenVtg Royal Copenhagen Signed Nils Thorsson Aluminia Fajance Baca Pottery Vase MewNils Thorsson Tile #2, Royal Copenhagen Denmark Mid Century ModernGefle Upsala Ekeby Sweden Zebra Cup And Saucer ExcellentBjorn Wiinblad Female Head Vase / Goblet Whimsical Mid Century Design Rorstrand "picknick" Ceramic Covered Casserole Dish No 53 Ovenware SwedenVintage Porsgrund Covered Dish. Green Anchor Mark 1953. NorwayRorstrand Mon Amie Teapot~removable Bamboo Handle~mint!~blue & White FlowersUnusual Rorstrand Mon Amie Coffee Pot~blue & White Flowers~mint Condition~no ResGustavsberg Adam Coffee Cup And Saucers By Stig Lindberg Set Of 2Rorstrand Sweden Red Top Marianne Westman Covered Casserole Mid Century ModernBjorn Wiinblad Nymolle Candle Holders Made In Denmark Rorstrand "picknick" Ceramic Trivet Wall Plaque #29 Ovenware Handpainted SwedenBjorn Wiinblad 1994 Large BowlUnusual Vintage Gustavsberg Ceramic Fat Cat? Dog? Animal, Sticker On Bottom50s 60s Mid Century Modern Hoganas Style Studio Pottery Vase Sweden ScandinavianUlla Wiinblad Alingsas Keramik Swedish Studio Pottery VaseNorwegian Porsgrund Porcelain Art Tile Christmas Elf Cat Design NorwayAwesome Vintage Egersund Norge Norway Beautiful Handled Footed BowlJeppe Hagedorn Olsen Abstract Landscape Tray And Centerpiece, Circa 1985Nice Mid Century Arabia Of Finland Vase White Mold # 321 Vintage Stoneware Horse By L. Hjorth Denmark Swedish Ceramic Tomte - Holding "new Year" Banner - SwedenThyssen Ceramic Tile #3, Denmark, Viking Ship MotifL Hjorth Denmark Stoneware Blue Glaze Vase Unique Funky Scandinavian Pottery Open Mouth Fish Ashtray~made In Finland~mintCathrineholm Norway Mid-century Modern Fab Mod Lotus Enamel Bowl Nice Hand Painted Arabia Finland Bog Whortleberry Dish Plate - Signed By Painter Pair Gustavsberg Argenta Green & Silver Salt Cellars-#957-nr2 Vintage Scandinavian Coffee Mug Rooster Weather Vane Swedish BerggrenGerman Tea Cut, Saucer & Cake Plate Bavaria Black & Gold Trim No# 84Vintage Child's Cup/mug Porsgrund Norway #84 Horse Geese Farm Barn & Field 7 OzKari Nyquist DishMarianne Starck Dish Michael Andersen Son Persia Glaze Danish ScandinavianNymolle Denmark Bjorn Wiinblad Seasons Autumn Wall Plate Rare VariationVintage Palace Hotel Ashtray Stockholm Sweden Rorstrand Pottery3 Kp Karlskrona Demitasse Espresso Cups & Saucers. Made In SwedenPair Mid Century Modern Herman KKarin Eriksson Sweden Bisque Porcelain Candle VotivesVintage Stavangerflint Norway Signed Kari Nyquist 3 Piece Set-1950'sPorsgrund Norway Porcelain Candy Dish Beautiful Modern 1982Berggren Swedish Tile Libertyville, IllinoisVintage Nymolle Art Fiance Hoyrup Denmark Dishes Cups Plates Saucers Blue WhiteBjorn Wiinblad Eva Jardiniere Studio Pottery DenmarkLisa Larsen Gustavsberg Swedish Scandanavian Art Pottery Syd FiguirineVintage Figgjo Mecca Flameware Vulcanus Norway Mid Century Cooking PotDanish Modern Art Pottery Bowl By Henrik Ditlev Larsen Made In DenmarkScandinavian Finnish Or Danish Art Pottery Polychrome Square Tray Plate SignedNymolle 8 1/2" Round Dish Or Platter, Bjorn WiinbladFiggio Flint Brdr. Frenning Hardanger Dancers Plte Valdres Norway50s 60s Midcentury Scandinavian Stoneware Centerpiece Bowl Vtg Danish Mod SwedenRorstrand Swedish Grace Bowl Louise Adelborg 10 1/2" White Transluscent BlueCollectible Rorstrand Art Pottery Cup Lars Thoren Meadow Flowers 50's DesignMid-century Stavangerflint Designer "kari" Norway "hurst" Plate 8" X1"deep