A Berlin KPM porcelain plate with a view of Heidelberg Palace

A Berlin KPM porcelain plate with a view of Heidelberg Palace

Model no. 1084. The well painted with a view of the Rittersaal in the gardens of Heidelberg Palace, labelled to the underside. Bordered by a broad band of butterflies and shells. Blue sceptre mark, red 98, impressed 116, incised II, black printed owner's monogram E.A.F.C. for Ernst August Fidei Commis. D 24.5 cm.
Circa 1820.

“Late eighteenth- and early-nineteenth century Europe was marked by a burning interest in scientific research and in the systematic organization of the natural world. This striving for encyclopedic knowledge is evident in the period's opulent botanical publications, mineralogical collections, and archaeological excavations. Likewise, the many accounts of travel in distant lands testify to the growing desire for higher and broader education. This development is also reflected in veduta painting on porcelain. Whereas the scenes and landscapes typical of eighteenth-century porcelain tended to originate in the painter's imagination, the scenes on early nineteenth-century porcelain are for the most part precisely rendered topographical views. The veduta came to acquire a special position in the repertoire of motifs executed by the KPM, and this form of decoration became one of the most characteristic aspects of Berlin porcelain in this period.
King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia promoted this development significantly. He set high store on local vedutas as evidence of a patriotic sensibility and supported this branch of painting by making regular acquisitions. Views both of Berlin and Potsdam and also of other locations throughout Prussia were not only ubiquitous elements in the royal palaces but were also sent - in the form of vedutas on porcelain - as gifts to allied princely houses as a proud indication of Prussia's cultural development, the enhancement and cultivation of the country being regarded as one of the ruler's prime duties. After the Wars of Liberation, views of towns and country landscapes were equally highly regarded by the bourgeoisie and offer evidence of Prussia's growing sense of identity as a nation. So it was that veduta painting came to be seen as a patriotic art form.
These three plates offer an example of the range of motifs used in “Prussian” views. In all three cases the circular veduta occupying the well of the plate is surrounded by a lavishly gilded ledge. The Potsdam plate has a view of the guest palace adjacent to Sanssouci Palace known as the “Neue Kammern” (New Chambers). The area of garden that extends in front of this late Rococo building is in the style of English landscaped gardens. The fact that the garden had around 1820 only recently been redesigned is probably the reason why this particular view was commissioned, so that the plate would provide a pictorial record of a contemporary topographical feature.
The Heidelberg plate has an imaginatively designed border with “engraved butterflies and shells”, and with its painting shows a tourist sight already well known at the time. The ruins of Heidelberg Castle, which in the Romantic era became a picturesque subject for painting, were not on Prussian territory but had been regarded as a patriotic symbol ever since Napoleonic oppression.
While the veduta is most commonly concerned with the reproduction of architectural motifs, landscapes constituted another important category of topographical painting. The veduta on the third plate is devoted to the hills and mountains of the Hirschberg Valley in Silesia. In the distance we see the summit of the Schneekoppe, the most famous mountain the Riesengebirge range and the highest mountain in historic Prussia. The Prussian royal family was fond of visiting Silesia and acquired several properties in the Hirschberg Valley as summer residences.
As these examples show, the motifs on porcelain ordered by the king were often selected for their concrete information value. The motif expressed an emotion or made a factual statement. When the porcelain piece in question was a gift, the veduta became a “pictorial” message directed at its recipient.” (p. 319f)

We would like to thank Dr. Samuel Wittwer for kindly allowing us to print this extract from the catalogue "Refinement & Elegance".

Provenance

Sotheby´s Royal House of Hanover Sale, 9th October 2005, lot 2329.

Literature

Wittwer (ed.), Raffinesse & Eleganz, Munich 2007, no. 99.

Exhibitions

Raffinesse & Eleganz - Königliche Porzellane des frühen 19. Jahrhunderts aus einer amerikanischen Privatsammlung, Berlin, Stiftung Preußische Schlösser und Gärten, Schloss Charlottenburg, 28th July - 4th November 2007
Die Sammlung Cohen. Porzellane der grossen Manufakturen 1800 - 1840. Wien, Liechtenstein Museum, 16th November 2007 - 11th February 2008
Refinement & Elegance - Early 19th-Century Royal Porcelain from an American private collection, New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 9th September 2008 - 19th April 2009

Lot 83

Estimate:
4.000 € - 6.000 €

Result:
7.500 €