German glazed-eathenware stoves rarely survive in their entirety despite their ubiquitous presence in German and Central European interiors. Placed in niches or rooms corners which enabled them to be filled from an antechamber or occasionally at the center of a room, they provided a welcomed source of heat. In 1716 Lady Mary Wortley Montagu wrote from Germany to her sister in England about the English 'obstinacy in shaking with cold six months in the year rather than make use of stoves, which are certainly one of the great convenience of life' (Quoted in Peter Thornton, Authentic Decor, New York, 1984, p. 97).
Given their scale and architectural character, stoves were often designed by architects and draughstmen as part of refurbishing commissions, devised within an all-encompassing decoration scheme to assure a sense of cohesion and harmony (for rococo examples, see Hermann Schmitz, Deutsche Mbel des Barock und Rokoko, Stuttgart, 1923, pp. 180-1). Surviving designs indicate that they were executed with a clear understanding of their prominent position in a room, and consequently consideration to making this element of interior architecture as striking as possible (see a design for a rocaille stove with the figure of Mars in P. Fuhring, Design into Art, London,
1989, vol. 1, p. 298, no. 426).
Franz Erndt (1792-1869) began his career in Vienna around 1810, founding one of the most important stove manufactory. Over 200 stove designs in a wide range of styles produced by Franz Erndt and his three sons Franz Jr., Bernhard and Karl survive, attesting to the success and productivity of the firm which remained active up until 1977. Their products were extensively exhibited at national and international fairs, and received numerous awards. Their clients included members of royalty, aristocracy and bourgeoisie throughout the Autro-Hungarian Empire (for a complete survey of the Erndt manufacture, see Brennpunkt Biedermeier. Ofenentwrfe aus dem Betrieb der Wierner Hofhafnermeister Franz Erndt sen. und jun. 1800-1860, exh., cat., MAK, Vienna, 1995).