Mystery potter #27: Josef Szirer

Man vase

Man vase. Mark

This curious 20 cm high stoneware bottle has a pouring lip shaped like a tricorn hat. Underneath, two holes and a vertical protusion form a rudimentary face. The many-ridged collar, and the moulded and pierced decoration at the front, give the impression of a uniform or formal dress in 17th or 18th century style.

I find it very endearing, possibly because it is a fully functional form that has been anthropomorphised through delicate touches, rather than a head vase, half human, half functional. The austere expression, cloaked body and sober colouring imbue it with an identity that goes beyond caricature.

I imagine that there are more pieces like this around, and would be pleased to find out who the maker is. The impressed monogram at the base reads ‘IC’, or ‘TD’, or similar.


Chris Myers has now identified this piece as one of Josef Szirer’s works (see comments).


  1. Hi Judith
    I have just been browsing through your mystery potters and have come upon one that I think I know. It is Mystery Potter # 27. I am pretty sure that this bottle is by Joe Szirer. I have several pieces by Joe and worked with him for many years at Caulfield Intitute – the marks on my pieces seem to match yours. Joe’s early work was influenced by his Hungarian background and much of it was decorated in this way. Also the titanium matt glaze on this bottle is a glaze that we used a lot at Caulfield. Hope this is of help to you.
    Chris Myers.

  2. I also thank you Chris as I purchased this piece last year (at least I think it was last year) and I’ve really wanted to know the name of the potter. I have it on my bedside chest of draws and love looking at the wonderful, subtle glaze. For some reason, from the first time I saw it on this site it has made me think of Don Giovanni’s father, as depicted in the movie Amadaus – perhaps because of the tricorn hat and the slightly sinister eyes.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s