JOHANN AUGUST NAHL
While the palaces of Berlin had been furnished in a rather protestant and conservative taste until the second quarter of the 18th century, this was to change under the reign of Frederick the Great. Fairly soon after his accession Frederick appointed Georg Wenzeslau von Knobelsdorff as 'Surintendant' of his palaces and in close collaboration with Knobelsdorf the so-called 'Frederican Rococo' evolved, a style characterised by bold contrasting curves, which most lent itself to the sculptural work of furniture and the panelling of rooms. Leading craftsmen of that time where the brothers Johann Michael and Johann Christian Hoppenhaupt, but the most famous artist working for Knobelsdorff was Johann August Nahl (1710-81), who was appointed 'Director of Ornaments' in 1741. The sculptural quality of his furniture is exquisite and despite a sometimes ‘heavy’ overall appearance, all lines of rails, legs and frame seem to flow into one another, giving his creations a certain liveliness.
The spectacular design of these armchairs can without doubt be attributed to Nahl; however, with Nahl’s sculptural contribution evident in most Royal residences in Berlin and Potsdam and the lack of any further records, identification of the original setting of this suite can so far only remain speculation. Close comparison of these chairs to those photographed in situ in the Konzertsaal of the Neues Palais in Potsdam circa 1930, suggest this suite might have been part of the decoration of the Neues Palais; however, it is highly likely that furniture was moved between the various residences between the mid-18th and the early 20th century.