Born in Salzburg Austria in 1872, Emil Pottner, grew up in a family of actors, apparently. The young man soon took his artistic talents to Germany, studying in Munich at the Academy of Fine Arts and then subsequently with Paul Hoecker. While it is unclear where Pottner learned to create ceramics, it is clear this part of his output became an important means to his artistic success. Small scale polychrome glazed depictions of assorted birds are a well-known part of his oeuvre. But Pottner also created vases and he painted.
As a printmaker he is known to have etched black and white landscapes where birds again dominate the compositions. He is, however, today best remembered for creating elegant color woodcuts, which have become very scarce. Having settled in Berlin around 1900, Pottner became a board member of the Berlin Secession. He built his life in and around Berlin, but tragically was forced to close his ceramic workshop in Pottsdam in 1933 and sell his home in Petzow in 1938. Of Jewish descent, his life’s work was slowly taken from him, before he was deported in the summer of 1942. He is thought to have been killed in September 1942 in the camp of Maly Trostinez, Belarus. Every extant work by Pottner is testament to the beauty the artist brought into this world.