A large rare Meissen porcelain candlestick from the swan service

A large rare Meissen porcelain candlestick from the swan service

Fired in five sections and pieced together. Designed as a large sculptural group arranged on an inswept pedastal suppporting the central shaft formed as a bundle of reeds. The three curved arms surrounding the central shaft mounted with gilded collars. The base with three moulded shells at the angles, shellwork relief and rocaille cartouches bearing the Brühl-Kolowrat-Krakowský arms of alliance. The figural group comprising a gentleman in classical drapery, a lady and two putti with the tails of fish, and a dolphin. Unglazed unmarked base, former's no. 44. A restored breakage to the front right shell, the central reed bundle cracked. Three nozzles lacking, the upper nozzle lacking the drip pan. Two replaced collars. The gilding redone. H 51 cm.
1739 - 40, modelled by Johann Joachim Kaendler.

Kaendler received the first commission to produce an extensive service in 1734. He consistently worked on designs for plates until April 1736. Count Brühl became director in chief of the manufactory in 1739. It was during this period that this impressive service was created. It encompassed over 2000 pieces in total and was constantly being expanded. The motifs of water fauna and shell work were combined to maximum effect, and the service is today considered the magnum opus of Baroque porcelain design.
The service was used in Pförten Palace, located in present day Brody in Poland, which Count Heinrich Brühl purchased on 24th March 1740. Johann Joachim Kaendler was heavily involved in the interior decor of the palace. He designed two porcelain fireplaces and promptly delivered “almost 3000 figures, groups, and other luxurious works alongside thousands of items of crockery” (Pietsch 2000, p. 88). The Seven Years' War did not pass by Pförten Palace unnoticed. Count Brühl was forced to flee, and the Prussian troops annexed the building as a war hospital before burning it down in 1758. The roof collapsed and all of the furniture was destroyed. Count Brühl died in Dresden on 28th October 1763 shortly after Saxony's defeat. Through the inventory of his estate we know that much, if not all, of the service survived the destruction.
It remained in Pförten Palace in the estate of Count Brühl's descendants until 1945. During the Red Army's approach at the close of World War II, Russian soldiers used hand grenades to force entrance into the palace, and many items from the service were broken or pulverised. What was not destroyed found its way into local farmhouses and cottages. A lively trade sprung up in the town of Brody for better preserved pieces, and it was via this route that the legendary Swan Service entered the western art market.


Cf. cat. Schwanenservice. Meissener Porzellan für Heinrich Graf von Brühl, Dresden-Leipzig 2000, no. 40, the example in the Porzellansammlung Dresden, inv. no. P.E. 1441. Pietsch lists three additional published models:
German private collection
Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania), inv. no. 63.1732 (with bronze lights and without the coat of arms)
Residenz, Ansbach, inv. no. P 300 (also without the coat of arms).
Pietsch is unsure which of the entries in the workshop records corresponds to this piece, as numerous candlesticks were produced for the extensive service. The estate records on p. 311 r list: "Fünfzehen Leuchter mit porcellainenen Figuren, zwey und drey tillicht" (no. 4004, ibd., p. 265). This piece may be one of those mentioned in this entry.

Lot 1135 Dα

60.000 € - 80.000 €

74.400 €