A very large Berlin porcelain vase given to Sir Andrew Buchanan by the King of Prussia, circa 1859

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Lot 117
A very large Berlin porcelain vase given to Sir Andrew Buchanan by the King of Prussia, circa 1859

Sold for £ 137,562 (US$ 172,557) inc. premium
A very large Berlin porcelain vase given to Sir Andrew Buchanan by the King of Prussia, circa 1859
'Schinkelsche Sorte', the flared neck finely painted with a continuous scene after Adolf Schrödter depicting 'Triumph des Königs Wein' (Triumph of the Wine King) between burgundy-ground borders decorated with bands of gilt entwined scrollwork and foliage, the burnished gilt rim tooled with a band of false gadroons, the lower body mounted with two gilt-metal bacchic masks and surmounted by a beaded collar supporting the neck, painted after designs by Hermann Looschen with heart-shaped panels reserved on a pale-lavender ground painted with fruiting vines and iron-red scrollwork over a gilt stiff-leaf border, the foot surmounted by a metal collar above the gilt-edged flared top over a band of moulded gilt fruiting vines, the high flared foot with lavender ground, reserved with gilt scrollwork and foliate swags with pendant gilt husks tied with ribbons, the footrim with entwined gilt bands inside the burnished gilt-ground rim tooled with a formal foliate border, 90cm high, sceptre and pfennig marks in underglaze-blue, the footrim inscribed 'E.F.' in blue, the bottom rim of the neck inscribed 'No: 3' in red


  • Provenance:
    Purchased on 15 December 1859 by King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia;
    Given by King Wilhelm I of Prussia to Sir Andrew Buchanan, 1st Bart. (1807-1882), Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the King of Prussia, in 1864;
    Thence by descent to the present owner

    London, The International Exhibition, 1 May-1 November 1862

    In the mid 19th century, the Berlin porcelain manufactory's most important client - as in the time of Frederick the Great - was the king of Prussia, who took porcelain for state gifts etc. to a value of around 16,000 Thaler every year. This vase was purchased by King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia (1795-1861) and is recorded in the account books of his private purchases: "15. Dezember 1859: Mit König Wein aus Coul: rund herum nach Schrötter die Lippe oben auf [Gold] u grav: Uber u unter dem Bilde brauner Reif mit [Gold] braun staff: Kante. Bauch u Fuß [Gold] u Coul: Dec: nach Looschen 1 gl Vase Schinkelsche Sr:" [15 December 1859: with Wine King in col: all around after Schrötter the rim above in [Gold] and engraved: above and below the picture a brown loop with (gold) brown decoration; border, belly and foot [gold] and col: Dec: after Looschen 1 [?] vase Schinkel sort] (Stiftung Preussische Schloesser und Gaerten Berlin-Brandenburg, KPM-Archiv (Land Berlin), Akte Nr. 354, Rex 1818-1863, p. 154).

    It seems likely that the vase was originally purchased without a specific recipient in mind, or was perhaps not given due to the king's incapacity (his brother Wilhelm acted as regent after 1858 and succeeded him as king in 1861). In any event, the vase was exhibited in London at the 1862 International Exhibition and is clearly visible, along with another large Krater vase, in photographs depicting the Berlin porcelain manufactory's display (Fig. 1). The vases were also noted in the official record of the 1862 Exhibition: "The royal manufactory at Berlin will take the second place among the porcelain works of the Continent [...] Many of the works are very fine - some of the paintings on large vases, plaques, &c., particularly so [...] A pair of large crater-shaped vases are good examples of the German school of porcelain painting. The designs are happy, and the treatment altogether very good" (Record of the International Exhibition 1862, William Mackenzie: Glasgow, Edinburgh and London, 1862, p. 423).

    In 1864, the vase formed part of a gift from King Wilhelm I of Prussia to the British ambassador, Sir Andrew Buchanan (Fig. 2), upon the latter relinquishing his posting in Prussia (along with lot 119). Among Sir Andrew's papers in the University of Nottingham is a letter of 16 November 1864 from 1st Earl Russell, then Foreign Secretary in Lord Palmerston's government, to Sir Andrew Buchanan consenting to him accepting the gift of this vase from the Prussian king ("...I have to state to you that I approve of your having accepted the porcelain vase which His Majesty the King of Prussia has been pleased to present you as a mark of his favour and esteem...") [Bu 33/110].

    Sir Andrew Buchanan, 1st Baronet (1807-1882), had an extraordinarily long and varied career in the diplomatic service beginning in 1825, when he was attached to the embassy at Constantinople. He subsequently served in Rio de Janeiro, two more times in Constantinople, Washington, St. Petersburg, Florence, the Swiss Confederation, and, in 1853, he was appointed envoy extraordinary to the King of Denmark. He became ambassador extraordinary to the King of Prussia in October 1862, for which he was appointed Privy Councillor. In September 1864, he was appointed ambassador extraordinary to Russia, and was ambassador to Austria from October 1871 until his retirement in February 1878. He was created a baronet in 1878. It is a measure of the importance of the relationship with Great Britain, as well perhaps as the personal esteem in which Sir Andrew Buchanan was held, that King Wilhelm I of Prussia chose such a large and costly vase as a gift. According the Director of the manufactory between 1850-67, Georg Kolbe, large vases such as the present lot were typically given to the most important recipients, including the emperors of Russia and Austria, the kings of Bavaria, Belgium, Portugal and the Netherlands, as well as numerous other princes (quoted by E. Köllmann/M. Jarchow, Berliner Porzellan (1987), Textband, p. 91). Sir Andrew also received an additional, more intimate gift from the Wilhelm I of a portrait plaque depicting the king together with his consort, Augusta of Saxony-Weimar-Eisenach, their son, Crown Prince Friedrich, and his consort, Victoria, Princess Royal, and their son, Prince Wilhelm (later Emperor Wilhelm II) (lot 120 in this sale).

    The design by Karl Friedrich Schinkel (based on the renowned Medici-Krater in the Uffizi collections in Florence) of 1830 for a vase of this form was in the Schinkel-Museum Berlin until 1945 (reproduced by Vasilissa Pachmova-Göres, Schinkels Wirken für die Königliche Porzellanmanufaktur Berlin, in Forschungen und Berichte, vol. 25 (1985), pl. 47, ill. 14). The vase based on this design was given by King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia to the Russian Emperor Nicholas I in 1834 (now in the Hermitage, St, Petersburg, illustrated by Pachmova-Göres, pl. 47, ill. 13). This vase model was known in the Berlin porcelain manufactory as 'Schinkelsche Sorte' (Schinkel Type) and was produced with various types of decoration and mounts, probably until the 1860s (Pachmova-Göres, p. 155).

    Adolf Schrödter (1805-1875) was a painter, illustrator, political satirist and author, who excelled at frieze-like compositions. He entered the Berlin Academy in 1820 and was a student of Wilhelm Schadow at the Düsseldorf Academy from 1829. He was active in Frankfurt a.M. from 1848 to 1854, when he returned to Düsseldorf. He was appointed Professor für Ornamentik at the Technische Hochschule in Karlsruhe in 1859. The series of nine paintings of around 1852 depicting 'The Triumph of the Wine King' illustrating the poem of the same name by C. de Marées are now in the Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe (inv. nos. 1409/1-8 and 2291). Schrödter apparently did several versions of the same subject, including a series of watercolours (formerly in the National-Galerie, Berlin, missing since 1945), that may have served as models for the Berlin porcelain painter. The watercolours were published in 1870 by Bruckmann in Munich (J. Lauts/W. Zimmermann, Katalog neuere Meister 19. und 20. Jahrhundert (1971), p. 232).

    Hermann Looschen (1807-1873) was active at the Berlin porcelain manufactory from 1832 and was appointed Senior Painter (Obermaler) and, in 1848, succeeded G.W. Völker in charge of decoration. He exhibited at the Berlin Academy between 1839 and 1850, mostly depictions of flowers and fruit.

    The significance of the letters 'E.F.' on the footrim of the vase, which are also recorded on other large vases of the 1840s and 1850s, remains a mystery, though they are more likely to be technical specifications to do with the bronze mounts than a signature (S. Wittwer, Raffinesse & Eleganz (2007), p. 435).
A very large Berlin porcelain vase given to Sir Andrew Buchanan by the King of Prussia, circa 1859
A very large Berlin porcelain vase given to Sir Andrew Buchanan by the King of Prussia, circa 1859
A very large Berlin porcelain vase given to Sir Andrew Buchanan by the King of Prussia, circa 1859
A very large Berlin porcelain vase given to Sir Andrew Buchanan by the King of Prussia, circa 1859
A very large Berlin porcelain vase given to Sir Andrew Buchanan by the King of Prussia, circa 1859
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