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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Koloman Moser, Austrian (Vienna, Austria 1868 - 1918 Vienna, Austria)
Surface Decoration
Other Titles
Series/Book Title: Surface Decoration
Original Language Title: Flächenschmuck
Work Type
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Cover: relief print in black ink on tan paper mounted to board
25.6 x 29.8 x 0.5 cm (10 1/16 x 11 3/4 x 3/16 in.)


Recorded Ownership History
Harvard College Library, Cambridge, MA, purchase, 1920, transfer to Fine Arts Library, 1969. Acquired with the Charles Sumner Fund in 1920 (per Amanda Bowen, 5/4/04). Transferred to Fine Arts Library 3/24/69 (stamp inside portfolio cover).
Harvard College Library Fine Arts Library, Cambridge, MA, transfer from Harvard College Libraries, 1969, long-term loan to HUAM, 2005. Transferred to Fine Arts Library 3/24/69 (stamp inside portfolio cover)

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum, Gift of the Fine Arts Library, Harvard College Library
Accession Year
Object Number
Modern and Contemporary Art

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The porfolio of 30 lithographs has a board cover on which the title appears in relief print in black ink on tan paper mounted to the board. The case is bound on the left side with khaki green tape (torn).
This portfolio of thirty graphic designs by the Austrian artist Koloman Moser was created as a pattern book for surface coverings of all kinds. Published in Vienna in 1902, it was the third in of a series of commercial graphics portfolios produced under the name "The Source" (Die Quelle) and took its place among the many other model and pattern books that had become popular around the turn of the century. Each lithograph in the portfolio is printed in one of four pairs of colors and inset with a decorative cartouche bearing the design's title and intended use in carefully coordinated script. In some cases Moser also incorporated a complementary emblem or motif. Moser's creations range from his whimsical bathroom wall decoration "Waves of the Danube" (no. 4), composed of rows of interlocking mermaids, to more severely abstract designs for carpets, printed fabrics, and endpapers, illustrating the Viennese taste for repeated geometric forms and flat decorative pattern. Together the designs exemplify the turn-of-the-century belief that art should enter every aspect of life, which became a guiding principle for the Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna Workshops), the design collaborative that Moser co-founded in 1903 with Josef Hoffmann and Fritz Wärndorfer.

Publication History

  • Kirk Varnedoe, Vienna 1900: Art, Architecture and Design, exh. cat., The Museum of Modern Art (New York, NY, 1986), p. 115
  • Maria Rennhofer, Koloman Moser: Master of Viennese Modernism, Thames & Hudson (London, 2002), pp. 134-137

Exhibition History

  • “As though my body were naught but ciphers”: Crises of Representation in Fin-de-Siècle Vienna, Harvard University Art Museums, Busch-Reisinger Museum, 02/12/2005 - 06/12/2005

Related Works

Verification Level

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