A Meissen soup plate from the 'Möllendorff' service, circa 1761
Lot 184
A Meissen soup plate from the 'Möllendorff' service, circa 1761
Sold for £4,000 (US$ 6,716) inc. premium
Auction Details
Lot Details
A Meissen soup plate from the 'Möllendorff' service, circa 1761
Of 'preußisch-musikalischen' design, moulded with alternating panels of musical, floral and military trophies within gilt-edged rocailles, reserved with an iron-red scale-ground and gilt dentil border to the rim, an iron-red Oriental flower spray in the centre, 24.8cm, crossed swords in underglaze-blue, impressed 22


  • Provenance:
    Ordered by Frederick the Great of Prussia in 1761;
    Given to General Joachim von Möllendorff, perhaps in 1783;
    Thence by descent;
    Purchased by Hermann Ball, Berlin, circa 1925;
    With Dr. van Delden & Cie., Osnabrück;
    E.A. Titgemeyer Collection, Osnabrück, acquired from the above in 1980

    On 12th December 1761, Frederick the Great ordered a service with scale-ground borders, similar to one already ordered (see lot 99), but with a red ground, instead of the green of the earlier service: 'und zwar von der Couleur, welche des Königs von Pohlen Majt. vorzüglich lieben, mit Gold untermischet (...of the colour that His Majesty the King of Poland loves above all, mixed with gold).' The pierced dessert plates were modelled by Friedrich Elias Meyer together with Peter Reinicke after a design said to have been drawn by Frederick himself. The design is based upon the shapes developed for an earlier service made for the Saxon Prime Minister, Count Brühl, whom Frederick particularly despised. He may have seen Brühl's service (known as Brühlsches Allerlei, for which see Lessmann 2000) when he occupied Brühl's palace in Dresden. Frederick thus appropriated two design elements particularly associated with his enemies, Count Brühl and Augustus III, to which he added his own emblems of war and music; the design became known as Preussisch-musiklaisches Dessin, and is evidence not only of the taste of the Prussian court, but also of Frederick the Great's personal taste and his interest in porcelain. It is interesting to note that this was the first porcelain table service for the Prussian court, which included both a dinner and dessert service (Wittwer 2009, p. 39; Giersberg et al. 1994, cat. no. 2).

    The service subsequently became known as the 'Möllendorff service', as it was probably given as a gift by Frederick the Great to General Joachim Wichard Heinrich von Möllendorff (1724-1816). As a youth Möllendorff served as a page at the Prussian court, and he went on to have a distinguished military career, reaching the rank of General in 1762 and appointed Governor of Berlin in 1783. He was promoted to Field Marshall in 1793, and subsequently fought against the French, by whom he was wounded and captured. Napoleon honoured his distinguished captive, awarding him the cross of the Legion of Honour. The date of the gift is not certain, though it may be the service referred to in an entry in the King's account books on 7th November 1783, for hay to pack a porcelain service given by the King to General von Möllendorff. This entry is confirmed by a cabinet order to Möllendorff of 8th November 1783, and it is tempting to speculate whether Möllendorff received the gift to mark his appointment as Governor of Berlin. The entire service was sold by the Möllendorff family around 1925 to the dealer Hermann Ball (Giersberg et al. 1994, p. 42).

    Parts of the service are in the Dr. Ernst Schneider Collection, Schloß Lustheim (Schommers / Grigat-Hunger 2004, no. 144; a tureen and cover is in the Grassi Museum, Leipzig (Gielke 2003, no. 287).
  1. Customer Services (UK)
    Customer Services
    Work +44 20 7447 7447
    FaxFax: +44 20 7447 7401
  2. Porcelain (UK)
    General Enquiries
    Work +44 20 7468 8243
    FaxFax: +44 20 7468 8252
  3. Shipping (UK)
    Logistics - Shipping
    Work +44 20 7468 8302
    FaxFax: + 44 20 7629 9673