Walter Bosse was born on the 13th of November 1904 in Vienna to Luise and Julius Bosse. His parents were both artists with his father working as portrait painter at the imperial court. It was not long before Bosse was exercising his artistic talent as well. He studied at the Wiener Kunstgewerbeschule and Münchner Kunstgewerbeschule from 1918-1923 and soon had his own shop in Kufstein.
Many began discovering Bosse’s work and a number of his pieces were shown at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in 1925. He then started designing for Augarten Porcelain Works as well as Goldscheider and Metzler and Ortloff. In 1931, to meet increasing demand (especially in America), Bosse opened up a bigger shop in Kufstein but by 1933 they started to feel the effects of the economic depression and by 1937, the end of Kufstein works finally came.
In 1938, now divorced, Bosse moved back to Vienna where he founds Bosse-Keramik and which again expands under the new name “Terra” to include glass, toys, textiles and a variety of craft items for the gift market. In the late 1940s Bosse began experimenting with brass by giving his ceramic figures a metal coating to protect them from breakage. As the 1950s came, Bosse found a great love for brass and began his “Black Golden” line. Soon, he devoted all of his efforts to brass. The figures became popular gifts given to politicians and royalty worldwide.
Even though Bosse sees much success with his brass figures, it is still a difficult time for him economically. In 1953, partly fleeing from financial troubles, he moves to Iserlohn where he sets up a new shop and continues production. This year also sees Bosse collaborating with Karlsruhe State Majolika Works on a number pottery of animal figures. In 1958 he designed for Achatit Schirmer.
A number of Bosse’s designs began to gain widespread popularity, particularly with his hedgehog ashtrays and hand shaped bowls. But with that success came many copiers. Forgeries began popping up worldwide, especially in England where they even tried to patent some of his designs! Specifically, his hedgehog ashtrays were being copied in the millions worldwide. Walter Bosse suffered huge losses so to protect his designs he began grueling court battles which would last the rest of his life and deplete most of his money. Because of these cases, he is considered the founder of modern copyright law for designer goods.
At the same time, Bosse turned his efforts to small-sized everyday items such as letter openers, keyrings and corkscrews and pencil holders. This new development of products came at the expense of some of the artistic quality he was know for in his earlier works. Thanks to these products though, he is still known worldwide today, whether directly through the current use of his products today or through the influence they had on the design world.
The last years of Bosse’s life saw him devoting more and more time and money in his court cases and on December 17th 1979, Bosse died with no money to his name in Iserlohn. Walter Bosse’s oeuvre consists of about 8000 models and designs, of which about 3000 are ceramics.
1904-Nov Walter Bosse was born the in 1904
1919-1922 Studied at the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts (Wiener Kunstgewerbeschule) under Franz Cizek (1919/20) and Michael Powolny (1921/22),“modeling and throwing ceramics”
1919-1937 Started his own ceramic workshop in Kufstein
From 1921 Self-employed as a ceramist in the “Wiener Werkstätte” under Josef Hoffmann.
1921-1922 Studies at the School of Arts and Crafts in Munich (Münchner Kunstgewerbeschule) under Richard Riemerschmidt (1921) and Adelbert Niemeyer
From 1924 Designed for Augarten Porcelain Works in Vienna.
1924-1932 Member of the Austrian Workfactory.
1925 Took part at the exhibition of Arts and Crafts in Paris (Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes).
1926-1930 Had figures presented in the journal “Die Schaulade”
1926-1936 Designed for Friedrich Goldscheider Manufactory, Wien.
1926-1939 Took part in the Leipzig-Fair (Leipziger Messe).
1926-1939 Employee of the Fischer company (Porzellanfabrik Arno Fischer) in Ilmenau.
1927 Austrian Arts and Crafts in Essen & exhibition of the German Ceramic Society in Berlin
1927-1938 Designed for Metzler and Ortloff, Ilmenau
1928-1930 Took part in the Künstlerhaus Weihnachtsschau
1928-1939 Member of the Bavarian organization of Arts and Crafts (Bayerischer Kunstgewerbe Verein) in Munich.
1931 Married sweetheart from college Beatrix Bolla
1938 Files for divorce & founds Bosse-Keramik in Vienna
1940-1961 Designed for Goebel in Oeslau.
1947-1953 Started “Terra” company
Since 1949 Started working in brass and began “Black-Golden Line“.
1950-1972 Designed for the state Majolika-Manufactory in Karlsruhe.
1958-1961 Designed for Achatit Schirmer, in Köln
1979-Dec. Died in Iserlohn