With his innovative slip trailing technique, the prominent Art Nouveau pottery maker Max Laeuger (1864–1952) took the floral style of his era in a new direction. He received a gold medal for his objects at the 1900 International Exposition in Paris.
Max Laeuger had the high-shouldered brown earthenware vase turned by a potter and glazed in a shade of yellow. He regarded the painted ornament as vital to the composition and thus executed it himself using the slip trailing method. This technique involves pouring diluted clay slips onto the piece using a so-called slip trailer and then sealing them under a transparent lead glaze. With artistic mastery, Laeuger caused a lush meadow to sprout across the vase’s surface onto which daisy-like flowers grow. In the process, he deliberately distanced his ornament from its model in nature and instead created a free-form design in an alluring color scheme. The self-taught ceramicist drew inspiration here from the peasant pottery of the Black Forest region. Born in Lörrach, Maximilian Joseph Läuger—who changed his name to Max Laeuger on a study trip to Paris in 1892—first completed training in painting and interior decoration at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Karlsruhe and then worked as an art teacher. He became interested in pottery as part of his efforts toward stylistic reform in the applied arts. The Kunstgewerbemuseum in Zurich purchased large tile pictures and individual vases from Laeuger himself in Karlsruhe as early as 1895, and even offered him the post of director of the applied arts school in 1902. He turned it down, however, because he had already accepted an appointment in Kandern (in the county of Lörrach in Baden-Württemberg) in 1897, with the grand-ducal commission to make the local art pottery competitive again. (Sabine Flaschberger)