Amazing Chess Set of the Month

Delores Keeper
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Bauhaus Chess Set

Bauhaus Chess Set by Josef Hartwig
Bauhaus Chess Set by the sculptor Josef Hartwig. Image by Christie’s.

With an estimated value as high as £20,000 before the sale, the set made by Josef Hartwig (1880-1955) in 1924 reduces each wooden piece to its most elemental form. Its shape is determined by the direction that it moves on the chessboard, and the size suggests its rank or power. For example, the bishop is simply a cross outline to represent diagonal moves.

Chess is an art which expresses the science of logic.

—Mikhail Botvinnik

The most ingenious design belongs to the knight, which is formed by three double-cubes joined so that each face shows two cubes, one above the other, and a third on the side to embody this piece’s move. Hartwig’s design illustrates the criteria—practical, durable, inexpensive, and beautiful—of Bauhaus architecture and design.