A Lot on his Plate:
Emperor Frederick the Great's Personally designed Porcelain at Meissen Sale

A dessert plate from the celebrated Japanese Service commissioned and designed by Frederick the Great of Prussia and completed under his close personal supervision at the Meissen factory, is to be offered at the sale of a private collection of important Meissen Porcelain (Part II) at Bonhams in London on Tuesday 2 July. It is estimated at £20,000-30,000.

The Prussian King ordered the service during the final stages of the Seven Years War, which involved all the major Europe powers between 1756-1763, and from which Prussia emerged as one of clear victors. It was the sixth and final service that Frederick commissioned for the Chinese House in the park of Sanssouci, his summer palace near Potsdam.

Frederick gave very detailed instructions for the design of the service, both in writing, and subsequently in person with the aid of drawings by his own hand. In addition to the title of the service, he stipulated that the shape should be that of a French silver plate, that it should appear both somewhat antique as well as shell-like, that it should have a yellow 'mosaic' border, and that it should be painted with Indian' or exotic animals and birds. The dessert plate in the sale has a beautifully crafted leopard at its centre.

Bonhams head of European Ceramics, Nette Megens said, "In addition to his prowess as a military commander, Frederick the Great was known for his love and appreciation of the arts – he was, notably, a talented flautist and composer. It is not surprising, therefore, to learn that he took a keen personal interest in the design of the 'Japanese Service' which is perhaps the one of the six table services he commissioned for Sanssouci that reflects his sophisticated taste most clearly."


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