The first thing that catches the eye is the rich gilding of this wonderful KPM service from the 19th century. It is only after this first illustrious impression that one spots the monuments of ancient Italy – dabbed in the finest detail of micro-mosaic painting onto white ground: here the bridge over the waterfalls of the Aniene and there the Ponte Lucano. The precious and highly elaborate design suggests a wealthy client – and someone who takes great pleasure in the smallest detail.
The decoration of this vase was inspired by Franz Krüger’s portrait of King Frederick William III in advanced years in the park of Charlottenburg Palace – the last official court portrait of the popular monarch. Posthumously, it may come as no surprise that the sovereign does not look out at us from the etched gold frame with the typical lenience of old age, but rather somewhat austerely, since throughout his life he was anxious to restore morality and order to the court after his father’s many faux pas. The Prussians were thankful for this and eventually tenderly called him ‘father of the fatherland’. He would have surely very much appreciated this piece of Prussian master craftsmanship.
The Danish painter and draughtsman Hans Tegner (1853 – 1932) was known in his homeland above all for his illustrations of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale scenes. From 1907 to 1932, Tegner worked as chief designer for the Danish porcelain manufactory Bing & Grøndahl, where, among other things, he designed the maritime motif of this vase. As if the piece had just emerged from the sea, seaweed and shells decorate the surface between bands of rich relief and moldings. And on the knob, a walrus with pointed teeth seems to watch over the work.