This Art Nouveau style vide-poche (storage tray) made of iridescent ceramic is from approximately 1900 and signed “Zsolnay Pecs Made in Hungary.” A female figure is leaning down with a jar to collect water. The object's asymmetrical shape, curved outlines, and iridescent ceramic translate the movement, texture, and blueish-green colors of the water.
This colorful and original vide-poche belongs to the Art Nouveau movement, an artistic movement from the beginning of the 20th century that wanted to break away from traditional forms and historicist styles from the 19th century. The defenders of the Art Nouveau movement wished to create an art form that included both modernity and a return to nature and its symbols. This vide-poche's modernity is brought by the shine and colors of the iridescent ceramic, and by the object's simple outlines. It also has a very organic, natural side to it, as every aspect helps to recreate the water that the female figure is collecting.
As the stamp on the bottom says, this object is from the Zsolnay Factory, a Hungarian ceramics factory founded in 1851 by the merchant Miklos Zsolnay. It first produced simple, useful objects, and in 1865, when Vilmos Zsolnay, Miklos' brother, took over the company, it began creating decorative dishware. It exhibited faience at the World's Fair of 1878 in Paris and obtained a Grand Prize. From the 1890's, the factory also produced architectural ceramics.