Distinguished Artist Series


Franz A. Bischoff


by Jean Stern


Franz Arthur Bischoff was born on January 14, 1864, in Bomen, a small town in northern Bohemia, at the time a part of Austria. He received his first art training in Bomen, being enrolled at a young age in the local craft school. His artistic acumen was great and he decided to continue his studies in Vienna, in 1882. He studied applied design, watercolor painting and ceramic decoration. In addition, he traveled for a short time to Dresden, Germany, where he extended his art studies.

In 1885, at the age of 21, Franz Bischoff emigrated to the United States. He lived in New York, working as a decorator in a china factory. Later, he moved to Pittsburgh to take a job with a glass factory, and again to Fostoria, Ohio, when the factory moved there. His role in the glass factory was to paint designs on lamp shades produced at the factory. It was while living in Fostoria that Bischoff met Bertha Greenwald, who became his wife in 1890.

Franz and Bertha Bischoff had two children, a daughter whom they named Frances, and a son named Oscar. While working at the glass factory, Bischoff made the acquaintance of a Mrs. Wagner, who persuaded him to move to Detroit to work in her ceramic studio. He and Bertha set up house in nearby Dearborn in 1892. Bischoff did not work for Mrs. Wagner for very long, deciding instead to open his own studio in Dearborn, where he produced exceptional ceramics and taught classes in china decorating.

During the next fourteen years in Dearborn, Bischoff became one of the most famous ceramic artists of his day. He specialized in painting flowers, most of which he grew in his garden. He was above all noted for his representations of roses, which earned him the epithet "King of the Rose Painters."

While in Dearborn, Bischoff continued to teach classes and founded the Bischoff School of Ceramic Art in Detroit. He later opened a second school in New York. His fame spread and his ceramics won several major awards in shows and expositions. He participated in the Columbian International Exposition in Chicago in 1893, and in the St. Louis Exposition in 1904. He also took part in various exhibitions in Paris, France. Bischoff invented and manufactured many ceramic colors which he formulated at home in his workshop.

Top to bottom: Franz Bishoff in his Studio, Dearborn, c. 1900; The Bishoff Studio, c. 1930.

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