Friedrich Wilhelm Graf von Redern served under 3 Kings of Prussia and was a Prussian Chief Treasurer and the General Director of Drama and Music, being the Generalintendant der Preussischen Theater, which included the Opera House on Unter den Linden in Berlin. He was also a composer and his friends included Felix Mendelssohn, Giacomo Meyerbeer, Goethe, Schlegel and Alexander and Wilhelm von Humboldt. The overture to his Opera Christine, Königin von Schweden was premiered in 1820 in Berlin. Fourteen years later he married Dorothea Sophia Bertha Jenisch (1811-1875), and later in life he was Lord Chamberlain at the court of Kaiser Wilhelm I until his death in 1883.
Shortly after his accession to the throne Frederick The Great had commissioned Georg Wenceslaus von Knobelsdorff to build a Palladian Opera House on Unter den Linden. It was built between 1741 and 1742, but was later completely destroyed by fire on 18th and 19th August 1843. The KPM archive records Carl Daniel Freydanck's painting of the burning of this building (pattern inventory, no. 192), but the painting appears to have been lost. It is possible that the rendering of the scene on this vase (illustrated opposite, and on pp. 8-9) could be the only version of this lost painting. Carl Ferdinand Langhans supervised the rebuilding of the Theatre, which opened the following Autumn, and it is this new Opera House which is shown on the other side of this vase (illustrated above). The vase was given by the King in February 1846 to commemorate the fire and the opening of the new theatre just months before. The factory archives record the gift and the costs involved, see Winfried and Ilse Baer, ...auf Allerhöchsten Befehl..., Königsgeschenke aus der Königlichen Porzellan-Manufaktur Berlin - KPM -, Berlin, 1983, p. 89, no. 85, where the vase is listed as:
6. Febr. 1846 (S. 164):
Für den Grafen von Redern Excel.
1. Vase Münchner Sorte No. 4. Zum avers aus coul: mit dem Brand des Opernhauses. Zum revers mit Prospekt des neu erbauten Opernhauses in Gold Viereck, nebst Blau und reiche Gold Decoration...695 Rthlr.
The decoration of the sides of this vase are very close to a design of 1832 by J.H. Strack which is still in the KPM archive (Mappe 146, Nr. 51-50). For an illustration of Strack's design see W. and I. Baer, ibid., p. 49, Kat. 23, and for a detail of the side of the vase see the endpapers of this catalogue.