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A GROUP OF LACQUERED FAIENCE VASES 'BERLINER LACKVASEN' (LOTS 347-349)
Exotic lacquer, brought to Europe from the Orient, had a great impact on the local decorative arts, and craftsmen throughout Europe tried to unravel and emulate the mystery of the shiny and durable material. Trading companies from England, Holland and Portugal imported the highly sought-after lacquer and, despite the fact that Germany had no direct contact to the Orient, it was at the Prussian and the Saxon courts that particularly fine techniques for japanning on ceramics developed.
The elegant vases offered here, all lacquered on a white-glazed ground visible on the insides and decorated with flower heads along the rim, share the blue underglaze 'coin' marks to the underside, and belong to a group of faience wares imitating Chinese porcelain, traditionally thought to have been produced in the early 18th Century. However, Samuel Wittwer's recent discussion about the different types of lacquer vases (in M. Kopplin, Schwartz Porcelain: Die Leidenschaft für Lack und ihre Wirkung auf das europäische Porzellan, Münster, 2003, pp. 237-249) suggests a different history for this group and proposes to date the vases to the 1840s. Comparing their decoration to other objects produced in the 19th Century, and above all taking into account that no records of such vases exist before the 1840s but several suddenly appear in purchase ledgers of the Prussian Royal family in the 1840s, Professor Wittwer speculates that they were produced in Berlin to cater for an elite group of collectors seeking objects in lacquer or porcelain, both of which had once again become highly fashionable and were here combined in the most commercial sense.
Related examples are at Schloss Charlottenburg in Berlin, the Neues Palais in Potsdam and the Lacquer Museum in Münster. A whole group of such vases was sold from the collections of the Earl of Iveagh at Elveden Hall, Christie's House sale, 22-24 May 1984, lots 2333-2336.