Carl-Harry Stålhane

Master Ceramist

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Above: Vessels designed by Carl-Harry Stålhane for Rörstrand, 1950’s. Photo: Sothebys

As they are with glass works the Swedes have a tremendous history of fine ceramic ware and one of their best was Carl-Harry Stålhane. Born in Mariestad, Sweden in 1920, Stålhane began working at the Rörstrand ceramic works in 1939 when he was 19, taking a brief break to study in Paris at the Academie Collarossi from 1947-48. By the time he was 30 Stålhane was already master ceramist with his best works being produced by Rorstrand, with whom he maintained a 40 year working relationship.

Trained as a painter and sculptor Stålhane’s first job at the Rörstrand factory was to paint earthenware under the guidance of the expressionist painter Isaac Grünewald. Grünewald recognized Stålhane’s potential and through their collaborations he was invited to an exhibition at the Swedish National Museum. Stålhane demonstrated very early his clear affinity for elegant, slender, symmetrical vessels in monochrome and matte glazes inspired by ancient Chinese Sung ceramics. Along with these decorative pieces Stålhane created a wide variety of wares including tableware as well as studio goods.

In the late 1940’s Stålhane was promoted to art director and chief designer of Rörstrand, taking over from his teacher and mentor Gunnar Nylund. In the early 1960’s his attention was drawn towards larger, more rugged forms with thick and quickly applied glazes. For the next several years he would experiment with different clays found in the rich soils surrounding Rorstrand, chemistry and color, and application techniques. He also taught at the Industrial Art School in Gothenburg from 1963 to 1971. Stålhane was constantly searching for new challenges. This may be why in 1973 he left his position of 40 years at Rörstrand and opened his own studio, Designhuset with the assistance of master thrower and friend Kent Ericsson. Continuing his artistic development Stålhane’s later works reflected his interest in Chinese and Japanese pottery which had always fascinated him. Carl-Harry Stålhane died in 1990 leaving behind a prolific body of work much sought after today by collectors. An odd fact of Stålhane works these days is that they are often auctioned off and collected in groups – either by color, period, or style. A nice fact about his works is that many of them are still quite affordable.

Just a few of the works of Swedish master ceramist Carl-Harry Stålhane. Click on image for full view.

swedish master ceramist Carl-Harry Stålhane

Carl-Harry Stålhane (1915 – 1990)