The Ceramics Collection

Of all collections preserved at the museum the ceramics collection is the vastest and it comprises about 5000 artworks, including architectural ceramics, garden ceramics, ceramic and porcelain ware, decorative groups and figurines. The collection characterizes the processes in the field of ceramics from the end of the 19th century to the present day.

Alongside Latvian ceramists' artworks the collection contains donations of ceramic ware and decorative objects from the artists living abroad (USA, Finland, Great Britain, Japan, Hungary, Estonia, etc.).


The collection comprises also part of porcelain mass produce, represented by the ware of the Kuznetsov's Porcelain and Faience Factory, Jessen's Porcelain Factory including individual artworks of Riga Porcelain factory artists.


At the basis of the collection there are artworks executed in the styles of National Romanticism and Art Nouveau by Jēkabs Dranda, Pēteris Šteinbergs and Ansis Cīrulis. Thanks to the opening of the Ceramics Department at the Art Academy of Latvia in 1924 and the very successful teaching activities carried out by the founder of the department Professor Rūdolfs Pelše, ceramics enjoyed at the time the status of being the only discipline of decorative art providing professional education to students. In the 1920s and 30s experimentation in the fields of technology were topical, therefore different sorts of clay, stoneware and glazes were applied achieving outstanding artistic results. The ceramics collection comprises artworks by Rūdolfs Pelše himself, Vilis Vasariņš, Ludvigs Kalniņš, Milda Brutāne and many other graduates of the Master Studio of Ceramics.


Due to the appeal voiced by Rūdolfs Pelše to professionally educated artists and manufacturers for cooperation in order to achieve better artistic results in industrial production of porcelain ware, the artistic level at the Kuznetsov's and Jessen's factories gradually improved and diverted from the vastly exploited West European and Russian porcelain decoration manner towards national style. The highlight of the collection is the coffee service The People manufactured at the Kuznetsov's factory after the sketch by Jēkabs Bīne. In 1937 at the International Exhibition of Art and Industry in Paris it was awarded Grand Prix.


Artworks by the porcelain painting studio Baltars ("Baltic Art") (1924-1928) are the highlight of the museum's porcelain collection. The studio was established by several outstanding Latvian painters and graphic artists -Romans Suta, Aleksandra Beļcova and Sigismunds Vidbergs. The decorative paintings on ware, executed after the sketches of these artists, reflect not only the impact of different directions of modernism of the time in their art, but also show their interest in the application of national motifs and their singular interpretation. The collection comprises more than 50 unique artworks which combine versatile expression of ides through abundant imagery and high professional performance. Gold and bronze medals awarded at the International Exhibition of Art and Industry in Paris in 1925 testify to the successful work of the studio Baltars. The collection contains also articles by porcelain painting studios Burtnieks and L'Ripors where artists Sigismunds Vidbergs and Niklāvs Strunke worked during the 1930s.


The ceramics collection characterising the post war period up to the 1980s contains a vast stock of ware design (services, vases) and decorative compositions. In the late 1960s garden ceramics, a new discipline of ceramics in Latvia started to originate. The organization of garden ceramic exhibitions gradually turned into a tradition which continued up to the 1980s. The museum's ceramic collection comprises the best part of the garden and architectural ceramics of the time created by Pēteris Martinsons, Rita Einberga, Latvīte Medniece, Izabella Krolle, Violeta Jātniece, Skaidrīte Cihovska and others. 


The contemporary ceramic collection is relevantly small. Apart from the artists' donations to the collection, there are also several acquisitions. These are artworks executed by Izabella Krolle, Sanita Ozola, Inita Reimandova, Jānis Ronis, Jevgēnija Loginova, Dainis Pundurs, Arnis Pelšs, Dainis Lesiņš, Ilona Romule, Juris Bergins. Contemporary artworks predominantly are of associative nature and complex in technologies, executed in porcelain, clay, stoneware in combination with metal and other unconventional for the discipline materials. Their art examines culture and its social context; however each artist sees very different sources – tradition and history, the environment, political change, common human experience – influencing their work.

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