Wool embroidery in low relief decorates the fabric-covered cardboard box. On each of its sides, Eugen Hasenfratz (1872–1939) has set whimsical animals in graduated colors that give them a Cubist flair.
Eugen Hasenfratz, who originally trained as a painter, managed with his appealing ornament to significantly increase the value of the simple lidded box. Lined with turquoise satin, the box has an outer cotton cover embellished by Hasenfratz with dogs and birds set before stylized vegetation, with red tones used to visually push the animals to the foreground. Is the frightened-looking bird being chased by a predator? Is the dog looking backward because it is unnerved by the wild chirping of the bird? Be that as it may, on the lid the dog and bird are united. But wait—one of them is already leaping away… Eugen Hasenfratz, born in Baden in the Swiss canton of Aarau, studied at the applied arts schools in Zurich and Geneva and then moved to Paris and Düsseldorf to study painting. In 1905, he applied to a post as lecturer in the textile design department at the Kunstgewerbeschule Zürich—but without success. He then moved to Villich near Bonn, where he devoted himself mainly to painting. Animal and plant motifs predominate in his designs for pillows, tablecloths, and boxes. The ink sketch for an embroidery shows how lush and ornamental his animal designs were and how skillfully he fitted them into the square background. Hasenfratz hired local embroiders to execute his designs. (Sabine Flaschberger)