A Diplomatic Gift from the Holy Roman Emperor to the Czarina of Russia
The present armorial tureen is part of a service made for the Russian Czarina Anna Ivanovna, a gift from the Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI to celebrate the alliance of these two empires against the encroaching Ottoman Empire – an alliance that resulted in an unsuccessful war fought 1736-1739. It is one of only two known in private collections. All others are either in museum collections or have been promised to a museum.
Comprising some forty pieces, this imperial gift included oval, circular and oblong-octagonal tureens in varying sizes as well as bottle coolers, sugar-bowls, beakers and saucers…. but no stands, platters or plates – the assumption being that none would be needed, as silver and silver gilt pieces of these forms would be used in place of porcelain. Given this background, the deliberate decision to have seated figures of Turks as the knops for the tureen covers must have been made for political as well as aesthetic reasons. For a detailed discussion of the use of Du Paquier porcelain by the Holy Roman Emperor as a diplomatic gift in general and the service made for Czarina Anna Ivanovna in particular, see Ghenete Zelleke, “Gifts Diplomacy and Foreign Trade: Du Paquier Porcelain Abroad - Austria and Russia”, Fired by Passion – Vienna Baroque Porcelain of Claudius Innocentius Du Paquier, Stuttgart, 2009, pp. 948-971.
32 pieces from the original service are retained today in the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg. In 1918, a selection of works of art from its holdings was brought to the Soviet embassy in Berlin with the intent to sell them for hard currency. Works of art were also sold at auction on behalf of the Soviet Union in a series of auctions held in Berlin at Rudolph Lepke's Kunst-Auctions-Haus, 6-7th November 1928 and 4-5 June 1929 and in Vienna at the Dorotheum, 15 November 1928. As no Du Paquier tureens from the Anna Ivanovna service were included in the catalogues for these public auctions, one must conclude that the seven tureens known to be outside of Russia were part of the group brought out earlier and sold privately. These are:
• A circular tureen in the collection of Paul and Melinda Sullivan, acquired from the noted Viennese dealers Leopold and Ruth Blumka.
• A circular tureen in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, acquired in 1936 [c.773 & A – 1936].
• A oval tureen in the Metropolitan Museum, the gift of Jack and Belle Linsky in 1982, acquired by them at auction at Sotheby's London, 24/25 April 1961, lot 450 (£2,300) in the first of three single-owner sales devoted to the porcelain collection of Otto and Magdalena Blohm [1982.60.330a,b].
• An oval tureen in the Art Institute of Chicago, the gift of Mrs. Kenneth A. Bro, Mrs. Huntington Eldridge, Mrs. Burton W. Hales, Mrs. Fred A. Krehbiel and Mrs. Edgar J. Uihlein through The Antiquarian Society [2000.101].
• An oval tureen in a private collection, acquired in the second Blohm sale, 5 July 1961, lot 190 (£1700 to Chester).
• An oblong octagonal tureen in the collection of the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art, Toronto, from the collection of Dr. Hans Syz [G96.5.15].
• The present oblong-octagonal tureen.
The Vienna Factory
The Viennese court-official Claudius Innocentius Du Paquier began his experiments with porcelain in 1716, using the letters of François Xavier d'Entrecolles-- a French Jesuit priest living in China-- as his guide. In 1718, he received a signed "Special Privilegium" from Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI, awarding Du Paquier's Vienna factory 25 years of imperial protection. However, it wasn't until acquiring the services of two workmen from Meissen - C.C. Hunger and Böttger's kiln-master Samuel Stölzel - that he achieved any success, finally creating hard paste porcelain in 1719. As the second factory in Europe capable of such a claim, Charles VI was able to commission works in this new material as diplomatic gifts.
Among the most expensive presents Du Paquier produced was the service for Czarina Anna Ivanovna. Made at the height of Vienna’s first period, the pieces in it truly embody the manufactory's eclectic Baroque spirit: finials in the form of seated figures are a distinctive characteristic of Du Paquier porcelain made in the 1730s, as is the factory's archetypal bold style of laub-und-bandelwerk or strapwork. The large, delicate blooms on the exterior of each tureen are reminiscent of sugar-paste flowers and are rare, seemingly only applied to the most special of gifts, such as the wine cooler presented to dowager empress Amalia Wilhelmine by Augustus III and Maria Josepha.
The Blohm Connection
Self-proclaimed “born collectors”, Otto and Magdalena Blohm first developed their enthusiasm for 18th century porcelain after the 1904 Great Exhibition at the Kunstgerwerbemuseum in Berlin. Only 34 and 25 at the time, Magdalena remarked that "The specimens shown there...filled us with such enthusiasm that we felt compelled, as the youngest and humblest of collectors, to try to obtain admittance to this illustrious circle. We would have to learn a great deal...to become experts in our chosen field." To this end they befriended Max Sauerlandt and Justus Brinkckmann, curators at Hamburg’s Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, as well as other collectors, welcoming them into their home at 36 Havestehuder Weg on the Alster. Shying away from the more popular collecting categories at the time, they chose to focus on the unusual: early Meissen, Commedia Dell’Arte and dwarf figures, and interesting examples from lesser-known German factories.
Vienna porcelain obviously struck a chord with the pair— out of the 416 pieces in their collection, remarkably 70 were Du Paquier, including three tureens from the service made for Czarina Anna Ivanovna, not including Hausmaler examples. Though a large portion of their collection remains on permanent loan to the Hamburg Museum, before his death in 1944, Otto devised a plan to sell a significant amount at auction after his death, so that other young collectors could experience the enjoyment of owning such pieces. The present tureen was offered in the third of these historic sales.