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”)

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]

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]

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    

Large Vintage Herman A Kahler Danish Modern Danmark Art Pottery Charger Plate Nr2 Gustavsberg Cups And Saucers-spisa Ribb Made In Sweden2 Gustavsberg Cups And Saucers Spisa Ribb Made In Sweden Mint Condition VintageFiggjo Daisy Enamel Fondue Pan Norway Turi Design Vintage Scandinavian 2 Gustavsberg Fruit/dessert (sauce) Bowls Spisa Ribb Made In Sweden Mint Rare 4"Midcentury Modern Arabia Finland Valencia Candleholder Ulla ProcopeStig Lindberg Gustavsberg Square Vase Karnevale Sweden Design McmBjorn Winblad Pottery Bird Container, Mid Century, Denmark, Dated '55Vase Miniature RÖrstrand Gunnar Nylund Made In Sweden Argenta Bowl With Silver Inlay Gustavsberg2 Gustavsberg Dinner Plates Spisa Ribb Made In Sweden Rare 9 3/4" Near Mint 4 Plates #1086 - Blue Fluted - Royal Copenhagen - Full Lace Long Rectangular Dish, Prunus Design, Stig Lindberg Gustavsberg 2 Gustavsberg 8 1/4" Salad Plates Spisa Ribb Vintage Rare Made In SwedenVase Miniature RÖrstrand Gunnar Nylund Made In Sweden Plate #1085 - Blue Fluted - Royal Copenhagen - Full Lace 2 Gustavsberg Bread/butter Plates Spisa Ribb Vintage Rare 6 5/8" Mint Sweden Porsgrund Norway Elf Gnome Serving Chop Torte Plate 11 3/4"Vintage Nymolle Denmark Mermaid Plate So DetailedHerman August Kahler Pottery Hak Danmark Man Horse Unusual Denmark ScandinavianEgo Stengods Atelier Swedish Vtg Figurine Hedgehog Chamotte Technique 1970'Porsgrund Nisse Tomtegubbar Elf Gnome Cup Saucer & Bread Butter Plate 1995 3 PcNorwegian Porsgrund Porcelain Nisse Christmas Mug Coffe Cocoa Elves NorwayLisa Larson Gustavsberg Sweden 1970s Boy Figure With Bucket & Spade Modernist2 Upsala Ekeby Blue Green Stripped CupsVintage Arabia Cow Steer Water Milk Pitcher White W/ Green FinlandArabia Finland Pottery PlateMid Century Sweden William Kage Gustavsberg Argenta Two Vases Stoneware Vase Argenta Wilhelm Kage Gustavsberg SwedenGustavsberg Argenta Art Pottery W/silver Application Twig & Leaf 4" Vase1970s Bjorn Wiinblad 7" Duet Vase Nymolle Denmark Black Herman Kahler Scandinavian Mcm Pottery Low BowlVintage Sweden Tilgmans Multi-colour Plate BowlBoxed Porsgrund Plate - Ship, Fjords & Midnight Sun-midnattsol,nordkapp Norway