In December 2013, the Dallas Museum of Art announced the acquisition of one of the most significant additions to its collection to date: an exceptional silver vitrine originally owned by the Wittgenstein family of Vienna and designed by Carl Otto Czeschka (1878–1960) of the Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna Workshops). The Wittgenstein Vitrine stands over five feet tall and is made of solid silver encrusted with enamel, pearls, opals, moonstones, and other semiprecious stones. This masterpiece, unique in the production of the Werkstätte, is one of the most important objects of the 20th century, marking the apogee of ornamental richness in Viennese Secessionist art and questioning the very direction of early modern design.
Since its arrival in Dallas, the vitrine has been the subject of an intensive research and conservation program. The exhibition, Modern Opulence in Vienna: The Wittgenstein Vitrine, will reveal these results by exploring the conservation effort and charting the context and history of this masterwork’s design and fabrication, iconography, and provenance. The exhibition will also present new perspectives on designer Carl Otto Czeschka, his work for the Wiener Werkstätte, and the important patronage of the Wittgenstein family.