A large black ritz decor vase with a deeply carved heron motif from the workshop of Arno Kiechle.  The sgraffito design has been carved by hand into the matt black surface of the vase, leaving hints of green in the white glazed substrate beneath.  It is hand signed on the base with Kiechle's standard rose mark, along with his name, model number, and the word 'handarbeit' indicating that the vase was made and decorated by hand.

ARNO KIECHLE (1897-1969) spent his childhood in Landshut, Germany, where his father Eugen Kiechle was a teacher at the technical school for ceramics.  He also received his training at this school.  After returning from the war in 1919, he completed a master's course there and founded his pottery workshop in 1923 with his brother Erich in Rosenheim after a period of travel and work in several ceramic companies.  In 1927 he and his brother were appointed to teach ceramics at the Kunstgewerbeschule (Arts and Crafts School) in Stuttgart.  He held this post until 1946, with a break for military service.  At the beginning of 1947, he founded the Kiechle & Mast ceramics company in Waiblingen with Karl Mast, a former colleague.  After Mast returned to teaching, Kiechle continued to run the business under his name from 1949 onwards.  Arno Kiechle designed the shapes of the vases and modeled numerous base shapes himself being responsible for the development of ceramic finishing.

From 1952 the company represented itself at the Frankfurt am Main ceramics fairs, and in 1955 Adele Bolz was hired as the decor designer.  She created the so-called 'ritz decors' (scratching designs into the unbaked clay) aka 'sgrafitto' on engobe* ceramics, painting the resulting separate areas with different colored glazes.  Apart from vases, wall and floor tiles were produced.  Bolz's creative design innovations were vital to the success of the company.  Her contributions largely determined the appearance of the production in the years that followed and contributed to the continuous upward development of the company, also reflected in the number of employees, which increased from four in 1950 to twelve five years later and again five years later to twenty.

In 1958, Kiechle relocated the company's headquarters to Fornsbach.  A year later, Adele Bolz moved to Ruscha.  Luise Haas succeeded her in the same year.  In the first half of the 1960s, despite the individuality and quality of their designs and the consistent implementation of new technical and artistic ideas by Arno Kiechle, the number of employees fell to ten.  Luise Haas left in 1968, and Arno Kiechle died a year later.  Until his death, he remained active in the workshop.  His wife, Dorothea Kiechle, attempted to continue the business in a slimmed-down form, but the attempt failed.  In 1972 the workshop was closed and abandoned permanently on 30th June 1972.

Kiechle vases with a black matt substrate are among the most splendid of their kind, both in design and execution.  Wall plates and tiles are hard to find, which applies even more to the vases.  Most of the time, single decorations remained in production for 3 to 4 years, but in some cases, extended to 8 years.  Almost without exception, Kiechle vases were almost always marked with hand-engraved text, including a stylized rose as a reference to Rosenheim, where he started his First ceramics workshop with his brother in 1923, followed by a mark of the decorator and a shape number.


*Engobe is a thin finishing layer that takes a long processing time, either white or colored, and is applied on unbaked earthenware to obtain a smooth surface.  Often a flux is also added.  Application takes place by immersion, spraying, or by brush.  This technique was frequently applied in the 50s, providing vases with ritz decorations and manually filling the surfaces originating in this process with colored glazes.


6ʺW × 6ʺD × 13ʺH
Mid-Century Modern
Item Type
Vintage, Antique or Pre-owned
Very Good Condition, Original Condition Unaltered, No Imperfections
Condition Notes
Excellent Vintage Condition
Quantity Available – 1