29 October 2002,
Price realised USD 16,730
USD 7,000 - USD 9,000
A BERLIN (K.P.M.) RECTANGULAR PLAQUE OF 'THANNHÄUSER AND VENUS'
Circa 1899, impressed monogram and sceptre mark, H and painted iron-red W. for Sigmund Wirkner
Finely painted with a view of Venusburg, island of fleshly temptation, here the distressed Thanhäusser resists the advancing goddess Venus, flanked by frolicking putti and surrounded by splendor and abundance
11¼ x 13 3/8in. (28.5 x 34cm.), within ochre velvet mount and gilt gesso frame
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Sigmund Wirkner is documented as the painter of this plaque by an invoice which reads: Trenton N.J. October 10th 1899/Mr. Walter Henry Heidweller/to Sigmund Wirkner/Picture on China, 'Tannhauser' $100 --/Received Payment Sigmund Wirkner. The present plaque therefore proves the long held theory that Continental blanks were decorated by European artists in America. It also confirms as Wirkner's signature the large iron-red script W. found also on other examples.
The subject of the present plaque, based on German legend, is best known as a three-act opera by Wagner. The image here depicted is after a painting of 1873 by Otto Knille, held since then in the collection of the Staatliche Museen, Berlin. Its exhibition in 1898 at the Berlin Nationalgalerie likely contributed to its popularity. Versions on Berlin (K.P.M.) blanks by other artists are also known, each varying in size and with slight variations in the precise details of the scene.
Walter Henry Heidweller, Trenton, NJ (paid $100 on 10 October 1899)
See Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen, American Porcelain 1770-1920, New York, 1989, pp. 55-56, fig. 45, p. 69, footnotes 8-11
Dina Zhang, Head of Sale for Asian Contemporary Art, explains how Hong Kong’s meeting of East and West has shaped her view of art
François de Ricqlès, President of Christie's France, explains how this exceptional work speaks to the Rockefellers’ mutually admiring relationship with France