Porcelain and glass with photography


Discover the world of photo ceramics.


The collection "Porcelain and Glass with Photography" was acquired by the artist, author and photographer Karl-Heinz W. Steckelings. The exhibits he collected, come from different sources and eras, but they were all gathered with the understanding of how important they are for the history of photography. 

Now the Helmut Arenz Kulturstiftung is taking on the responsibility of publishing the collection within the Kulturfabrik, maintaining it and preserving it for posterity.


Matching the former production rooms of the Oscar Schlegelmilch Porcelain Manufactory, we offer you a significant and extensive collection of photo ceramics, on about 500 m² of exhibition space.

In addition, it is our intention to bring the present and following generation closer to the craft development and beauty of photoceramics and to make them aware of how important the individual achievements were for photography as a whole.


A very common and popular use of photo ceramics was post-mortem photography. Portraits were commissioned from a photographer by the surviving family members. 

It was often the only photograph taken of a person, as well as a treasured keepsake for the family. The image of the deceased was then found on tombstones, plates, rings, cups, vases or jewelry boxes.

What is Photo Ceramic?

Photoceramics is the term used to describe the process by which photographs have been burned onto ceramics such as porcelain, glass, enamel and metal. The first experiments were carried out in France by Lafon de Camarsac (1821-1905) starting in 1851. In 1854, he developed the fixation of photographic images on metallic and ceramic materials. Photoceramics itself is based on the chromate dusting process patented by F. Joubert in 1855.


A small insight into our photoceramic collection.

What procedure was used?

The dusting-on process in photography involves mixing chromic acid salt with gum solution and dextrose and allowing this solution to dry on glass. The layer loses its stickiness in the light.

If it is exposed under a positive image, it remains sticky under the black image contours, and if dry color powder is then sprayed on, it adheres to the areas that have remained sticky. In this way, the image appears in the respective dust color. This process was used by Pizzighelli ("Anthrakotypie und Cyanotypie", Vienna 1881) with some modifications under the name anthracotype for the production of light prints on paper.

If one has used a negative image as an original, one again obtains a negative image. In this form, dusting on glass is an important tool for reproducing fragile photographic negatives.

If one dusts with porcelain paint, one obtains a burn-in image which, after covering the layer with collodion, can be easily removed from the glass under water and transferred to other surfaces (porcelain and glass dishes) and burned in. This is how the burned-in images are obtained on glass and porcelain. According to Grüne, a positive collodion image is made from a negative using the camera obscura. This is dipped into a platinum solution, and here the silver of the image contours reduces the platinum. This precipitates on the image areas, and thus a platinum image is created that can be peeled off the glass, transferred to porcelain and burned in.


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