Berliner Porzellan, die Manufaktur Friedrich des Grossen 1763-1786, Georg Lenz, Berlin 1913, p. 25, ill. 104
Kaiserlicher Kunstbesitz aus dem Holländischen Exil Haus (exh. cat.), Doorn, Berlin, 1991 for a discussion and illustration of the identical chandelier by Pierre Geoffroy, p. 111, Cat. nr. 103
A related Meissen 15-light chandelier, circa 1750, was sold Sotheby's Monaco, February 8, 1981, lot 246.
In 1763, King Friedrich II of Prussia bought from Johann Ernst Gotzkowsky the porcelain factory which he had founded two years before, and it became: Köningliche Porzellan Manufaktur. The production from the first period friderizianisches Rokoko of KPM can be considered as the most beautiful Rococo porcelain produced in Germany. This chandelier is one of a group produced at the KPM Manufactory in Berlin between 1765 and 1786.
The documentation of the Royal Porcelain Manufactory on order and delivery notations from the period of Frederick the Great is not available. Only the Annexes published by Georg Lenz are available. These contain the King's Privy Purse and other acquisitions, the report by the first Director of the Porcelain Manufactory, Johann Georg Grieninger, "Of the Origin and Continuation of the Royal True Porcelain Manufactory at Berlin," and the contemporary written proof in the Manufactory's book of models. Lenz was able to indicate invoices of other coffers from which political gifts by Frederick the Great were paid.
In the King's Privy Purse invoices, under acquisitions from the Porcelain Manufactory, two large 15 and 21 light chandeliers first appear on Christmas 1765. The only known stamp on such chandeliers is Pierre Geoffroy, who headed the bronze workshop of the KPM and died in 1765, which confirms a probable date of creation for the present model. In 1753, the chaser Pierre Geoffroy came to Potsdam from Paris to be employed in the Factory of Ormolu Works founded by Johann Melchior Kambly in 1752. With a view to encourage manufacturing, the creation of new industries, and with an eye to economically advantageous production of gilt bronze work in his own country, Frederick II had granted the concession to Kambly, and the necessary artisans working in Paris as early as 1751. Between 1753 and 1754, Geoffroy, together with the model maker Henry-Nicolas Cousinet, the founder Dalliel Valy and the gilder Nicolas Morel, produced four large bronze crowns composed of dragons for the Neue Palais, and four large bronze chandeliers, also from models by Cousinet, for the Marble Hall of the Stadtschloss in Potsdam. In 1754-1755, Geoffroy directed the chasing of the bronze work in the Bronze Hall of Stadtschloss in Potsdam, whose design is partly attributed to Kambly, and to whom the execution is entirely due. The crown chandelier produced in 1756 for the Chinese House, also attests to Geoffroy's excellent working methods.
The figures of Fame and the cherubs are after a model by Friedrich Elias Meyer (1723-1785), who was the head of the figure making section of the Gotzkowsky Manufactory and who was appointed the "Directeur des Ornaments" of the Manufactory at the time of Frederick the Great. In the KPM book of models, which had been kept since 1763, the large crown chandeliers with the two figures of Fame are entered under Model number 111: One Fame, seated, holding the trumpet low drawn with B, and under Model number 173: two seated children on a case, were also used on the large 'Crown chandelier, one with A, one with B.
The influence of Johann Michael Hoppenhaupt d.Ä. is visible for the composition of the crown chandelier. Compare: Kronleuchter, Mit Behang aus Bergkristall und Glas sowie Glasarmkronleuchter bis 1810, Käthe Klappenbach, Berlin, 2001, pg. 169, ill. 162.
Unsigned examples in the Blue Room and the Hunting Room are today still in situ at Palace Sanssouci. The one signed by Pierre Geoffroy, today in Huis Doorn (the Netherlands in the collection of the former Royal family of Prussia and exhibited at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, November 2, 2001 until February 3, 2002.
Exhibition cat. pl. 18, p. 81, Rococo in Nederland, Zwolle, 2001), hung in 1913 in the Empress' private apartment in the Neue Palais, and probably originally in the lower Concert Room.
The frequent payments from the royal purse for the KPM crown chandeliers leads one to assume that such pieces were gifts of choice by Frederick the Great to other courts.
Such presents were especially intended for Courts with relational or political connections, his brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, but also friends, military and important political personalities. These gifts were intended not only to win the personal favor of recipients, but also to display the artistic accomplishments of one's own country.
The following KPM crown chandeliers, acquired and offered by Frederick the Great, can be documented:
- On Christmas 1764 "a chandelier K1. Type 15 lights" was acquired for 1000 Rtlr.25 (Reichstaler).
- On January 1766, 1000 Rtlr. was paid for "1 Crown chandelier K1 5e with 15 lights", and presumably all sent to the Braunschweig Court for 50 Rtlr. Close relations with his House existed given that Frederick II's wife, Elisabeth Christine, was the daughter of Duke Ludwig Rudolf of Braunschweig. The location of this crown chandelier is today unknown.
- On December 1768, the amount of 1500 Rtlr. was paid for "1 piece colorfully painted crown chandelier large type".
- On October 1769, in addition to a snuff box with his portrait, then offered to the Elector's widow, Maria Antonia von Sachsen, girandoles and candelabra, "1 crown chandelier largest type with 21 lights", which cost the private purse the same amount of 1500 Rtlr. It had, after she viewed the products of the manufactory, replaced the Meissen chandelier that was not so big and beautiful. She also flattered the Berlin Manufactory when she compared it to a schoolgirl who wanted to surpass her teacher, the Meissen Manufactory. In 1913, the crown chandelier hung in the Tower Room arranged as a porcelain cabinet in her Schloss in Dresden. The piece was probably stored during the Second World War, but its further destiny is not known.
- In 1770, Frederick the Great also offered a large model to William V of Orange and his wife Friederike Sophie Wilhelmine, niece of the Prussian King. It is now in the Palace Het Loo in William V salon.
- Again from Grieninger's report it can be assumed that in 1771 Frederick the Great sent his nephew, Gustav III of Sweden, and his mother, Frederick's sister Louise Ulrike, "a crown chandelier, various compositions of a large, finely painted and decorated vases, also of garnished figures and other porcelains as gifts", after the Swedish King had visited the manufactory on his homeward journey from Paris via Berlin. In an inventory of services and vases from the Berlin Manufactory concerning Louise Ulrike and Gustav III, all trace of a crown chandelier is missing.
- On 1 June, 1772, a crown chandelier together with extensive desert services and table compositions, a vase and figure composition, were packed in crates for Catherine II as well as for the successor to the throne, the Grand Duke Paul, and arrived in Saint Petersburg in mid-July. The crown chandelier, which hung in the Pavlosk Palace until the twentieth century, is however today no longer traceable.
- As for the "large crown chandelier with 21 lights", which was, according to Lenz, produced for the Margrave Carl Alexander of Ansbach, which again cost the royal purse 1500 Rtlr, on December 1722, is probably the 15 light chandelier which is today in Schloss Ansbach, offered by Frederick the Great in 1773 after his visit to Ansbach (Hofmann 1932, p. 431, ill. 475; Köllmann/Jarchow 1987, vol. 1, p. 182, 184, vol. 2, ills. 622 and 620, for a pair of related wall lights; Hofmann 1932 - Friedrich H. Hofmann: Das Porzellan der europäischen Manufakturen im XVIII. Jahrhundert, Berlin 1932; Köllmann/Jachrow 1987 - Erich Köllmann und Margarete Jarchow: Berliner Porzellan, vol. 2, München 1987).
- A pair of related wall lights, circa 1765-68, are in The Metropolitan Museum of Art (acc. no. 2002.437.1, .2).
- In September 1775, a stock of a large and a small crown chandeliers were listed (the value of the latter this time at 1200 Rtlr.), as well as clocks with porcelain cases, table-wall and vase-lights, which were documented in a Cabinet record of Frederick the Great.
- A KPM crown chandelier was also present in the Residenz Schloss Weimar in the second half of the nineteenth century, which could not be proven by archives. From an indistinct photograph in an album it is not possible to distinguish whether it is a 15 or 21 branch version of the crown chandelier.
- Another KPM crown chandelier is located at the Amalienborg Palace in Copenhagen and was part of the collection of Queen Marie Louise of Denmark, Princess of Hesse-Kassel (1817-1898).
- The KPM chandelier in the Berlin Kunstgewerbemuseum comes directly from the ownership of the Manufactory.
Information kindly provided by Dr. Samuel Wittwer, Dr. Alfred Ziffer and Drs. Josephine Baas.
Bronze, porcelain, pine
Height approximately 66 in.; diameter approximately 45 in. 167.5 cm; 104.3 cm
Friedrich II (1712-1786), King of Prussia (1740-1786)