This monumental Viennese stove is crafted from white glazed terracotta and measures an impressive 106" tall and 36" wide and deep (269 cm by 91 cm). It was purchased at auction from Hart Galleries of Houston in 2005 in their 298-lot auction of antiques and fine art from the Warwick Hotel in Houston. The item was acquired by the independent and wealthy oilman, John W. Mecom Sr. (1911-1981), between 1962 and 1964. In 1962, Mecom purchased the Warwick hotel and is said to have spent $13 million to redecorate the building and fill its lobby and rooms with European antiques, and this was one of his most important acquisitions. The stove resided near a spiral staircase in the lobby from the 1960s through 2005. (Please see image below.) Mecom sold the hotel around 1970 after his oil business failed, but this (and most of the hotel’s antiques) were kept by the subsequent owner. The Hart Galleries auction was held to divest the hotel’s inventory of antiques on behalf of the new owners, Z Resorts LLC, who reopened the hotel as the Hotel ZaZa in 2006 in a completely new style.
The lot was described as a “monumental glazed ceramic urn…created for Franz Joseph I of Austria in 1915.” Our client has a faxed copy of the lot description, but no further documents supporting the attribution to Franz (Francis) Joseph I. Joseph I (1830-1916) lived for most of his life in the Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna, home of the Hapsburg monarchs since the 1700s. Wikipedia states “In the 19th century one name is closely connected with Schönbrunn's, Emperor Franz Josef I of Austria. He was born there, spent the majority of his life there and died there on November 21, 1916 in his sleeping room. Through the course of his 68-years reign, Schönbrunn Palace was seen as a Gesamtkunstwerk (total work of art) and remodeled in accordance with its history.” We believe this decorative stove was commissioned by the emperor, but later sold by the state in the early twentieth century when the palace rooms were redecorated in the Rococo style.
While there are many ceramic stoves which decorate rooms in the palace today, all exhibit the French Rococo style, in keeping with other furni