Anniversary: 10 Years of Berlin Sales

The 3rd May marks the 10th anniversary of Lempertz' traditional Berlin Sale. Alongside a first class selection of porcelain, silver, bronze, and paintings with Prussian connections, this anniversary sale will also feature the prestigious Gronert Collection.

Lempertz will be holding their tenth traditional Berlin Sale on 3rd May at 6 pm, with works in porcelain, silver, bronze, and cast iron, as well as paintings, coming under the hammer.

This year's offer of exquisite porcelain once again forms a particular highlight of the sale – especially the second part of a West German private collection, the first part of which was already sold in 2016. The choice pieces were amassed over many years by a couple with a passion for Royal Berlin Porcelain, and a special affinity for the factory's early production phase – ranging from 1763 to the death of Frederick the Great in 1786. One especially fine piece from this era is this large tureen from the 2nd Potsdam service made for Frederick II (estimate €20,000 – 25,000). This service was delivered to the Prussian court in 1767, and represents a seminal moment in the early history of the manufactory.

The collection also includes sumptuous works from the Neoclassical period, such a service with faux micro-mosaic décor from 1820 (estimate €14,000 – 16,000) and a platter with cameo décor from the extensive service made for Princess Louise of Prussia, estimated at €6,000 – 8,000. The service was presented to the Princess, who was later to become Queen of the Netherlands, on occasion of her wedding in 1825.

Last to come under the hammer will be a selection of fine Jugendstil porcelain, including 20 figures from Adolph Amberg's Wedding Procession (Hochzeitszug) series, at estimates between €500 and €6,000. Amberg's famous service represents one of the highest achievements of porcelain making in the Jugendstil taste. It was originally designed to be carried out in silver as table decoration for the wedding feast of Crown Prince Wilhelm and Cecilie of Mecklenburg. The silver version was never realised though, as the court considered the design - especially the depiction of the bride as the naked Europa with the bull - to be too risqué. However, the quality of the designs led the Berlin KPM manufactory to purchase them, and the service was first produced in porcelain between 1908 and 1910.

A further undisputed highlight of this auction is the life-sized marble figure “Die Nacht” by Emil Wolff, estimated at €60,000 – 80,000. This fine work, weighing over 700kg depicts an allegory of night as a nude young woman, who uses her right hand to pull a starry veil over her head and holds two poppy flowers in her left. At her feet perches an owl – a bird whose ability to see in darkness caused it to become a potent symbol of wisdom. Wolff was born in Berlin in 1802 and began his studies at the Berlin Art Academy in 1815. He was taught, among others, by his uncle Johann Gottfried Schadow, who is known for sculpting the quadriga that crowns Brandenburg Gate. An academic prize enabled Wolff, whose paintings now hang in the Louvre, to visit Rome when he was 20 years old. He then settled in the city and there was heavily influenced by the style of Bertel Thorwaldsen. This work, entitled “Die Nacht” (The Night), was made the Italian capital after 1830.

The sale also includes a rare Berlin KPM porcelain Munich-form vase from the 1830s. The piece measures just under 60cm in height and is estimated at €45,000 – 60,000. It is decorated with a finely painted wreath of naturalistic flowerheads on white ground, as well as extensive gilding chased with foliate and Neoclassical motifs.

The Gronert Collection, which is presented in a special catalogue, will be auctioned in a separate sale also taking place on 3rd May and beginning at 3 pm. The Berlin art dealer Ulrich Gronert collected European decorative arts spanning the last 300 years - with a focus on Berlin KPM porcelain – for almost half a century. Alongside Royal Berlin, his collection also includes exquisite porcelain from other manufactories, including Meissen and Sèvres, as well as fine silver, paintings, and sculptures.

The sale will include 140 lots in total, with highlights such as the legendary large Berlin KPM porcelain vase with parrots. The piece, measuring just under 60 cm in height, was already heralded as an important milestone in modern porcelain design when it was published in the Westermanns Monatsheften in 1908. The Jugendstil vase with its tapering, flared neck and colourful bird motifs was designed by Lorenz Lang and is estimated at €18,000 – 25,000. Particularly notable in this vase's décor are the relief enamel borders surrounding the parrots, for which Lang was awarded a gold medal at the Paris world fair in 1900.

The collection also includes the painting “Landscape near Aibling”, painted by Georg Schrimpf in 1931, estimated at €36,000 – 40,000. This artist was born in 1889, and his works can be found in the MoMA in New York, the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin, the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, as well as many others. He is best known for his uninhabited landscapes and was among the leading proponents of the New Objectivity movement. Alongside paintings, the sale will also feature various fine bronze sculptures, such as Georg Kolbe's “Kauernde” (estimate €30,000 – 35,000) and two horse figurines by Renée Sintenis (each estimated at €10,000 – 12,000).