A ceramic head of a woman, painted in white, red, and brown. Dark curls and roses peek out from beneath a small brown hat that is tilted to cover her right ear.



Vally Wieselthier (Austrian, 1895-1945)

Lent in Memory of Elaine Wormser Reis

With an air of serenity and self-assuredness, this bust of a modern woman peered over Elaine when she sat at her dressing table. It was created by Vally Wieselthier, who was revered for her expressive figural clay sculptures. As a promoter of Viennese modernism, it is no surprise that Urban selected this bust for inclusion in the Wormser bedroom. His 1928 boudoir Repose featured a similar work by the artist. It is possible that the head in Elaine’s room was part of the remaining inventory of Urban’s short-lived New York showroom that featured the work of the modern Austrian design collective, the Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna Workshop). Wieselthier was a principal designer at the Werkstätte for several years.

Black and white photo of an interior with a ceramic head of a woman in a niche over a dressing table, similar to the Wormser bedroom.
Repose (detail), American Designers’ Gallery, New York, designed by Joseph Urban, 1928. Joseph Urban Archive, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University