19th C. Ormolu Mounted Berlin KPM Porcelain Clock Set. Circa 1890

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No 108


19th C. Ormolu Mounted Berlin KPM Porcelain Clock Set. Circa 1890

KPM porcelain clock set, c.1890

Candelabra Height: 32.5"

Clock Height: 29.5"

The Royal Porcelain Factory in Berlin (German: Königliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Berlin, abbreviated as KPM), also known as the Royal Porcelain Manufactory Berlin and whose products are generally called Berlin porcelain, was founded in 1763 by King Frederick II of Prussia (known as Frederick the Great). Its actual origins, however, lie in three private enterprises which, under crown patronage, were trying to establish the production of "white gold" (i.e. porcelain) in Berlin from the mid-18th century onwards. The company logo is a cobalt blue sceptre, which is stamped (painted prior to 1837) on every piece. All painted pieces produced by KPM are signed by the painter. KPM is still producing to this day; each piece of dishware and decorative porcelain is entirely unique. KPM has produced a number of dishware forms and porcelain figurines throughout its history. Some forms have hardly changed their shape in over 200 years of production. Frederick the Great, who, as the owner, jokingly referred to himself as his own "best customer", was under the spell of the Rococo style during his life; a culmination of this artistic style can be seen in his castles.To this day, the most successful designs of the 1930s are the Urbino, Urania and Arkadia (originally a tea set designed in honor of KPM's 175th anniversary) created by Trude Petri. The Arkadia medallions were created by Siegmund Schütz and the Urania set (with the same basic form as the Arkadia) did not enter production until after the war, as was also the case with the Arkadia table set. Porcelain figurines of different styles corresponding to each era have always been created under the guidance of the master workshop, including the modern animal sculptures, such as the miniature Buddy Bear or the Knut Bear.

Before KPM was founded, two attempts had already been made to establish a porcelain manufactory in Berlin. In 1751, the Berlin wool manufacturer Wilhelm Caspar Wegely was granted the royal privilege to set up a porcelain manufactory in Berlin. Furthermore, Frederick II of Prussia granted him exemption from duties for the import of essential materials and assured him of the exclusion of all competition. Wegely hired first-class craftsmen from his competitors, and appointed the porcelain sculptor Ernst Heinrich Reichard to the post of chief modeller. However, technical difficulties and the Seven Years’ War between Prussia and Saxony soon proved to be the enterprise's downfall. In 1757, he dissolved his company and sold its inventories, equipment and materials to the Berlin businessman Johann Ernst Gotzkowsky. In 1761, the second porcelain manufactory in Berlin started its operations. Gotzkowsky concluded an agreement with Wegely's chief modeller, Ernst Heinrich Reichard, who was in possession of the secret formula known as the arcanum. Reichard received 4,000 thaler for the arcanum, and another 3,000 for the stock of porcelain and other materials. Furthermore, he undertook to work for Gotzkowsky as a keeper of the arcanum and as the manager. Gotzkowsky also agreed to take over Reichard's eight workers. Appreciated and supported by the King of Prussia, Gotzkowsky managed to attract important artists and qualified employees. Right at the start, Gotzkowsky appointed Friedrich Elias Meyer, a pupil of Johann Joachim Kändler who came from Meissen, to the post of chief modeller, and Carl Wilhelm Boehme to the post of head of the porcelain-painting department. Gotzkowsky bought another building next to his own property at Leipziger Straße 4, and he began to build a manufactory on the site.Nevertheless, Gotzkowsky's finances began to deteriorate. Since the royal exchequer was in the red on account of the war, Gotzkowsky believed that he stood little or no chance of obtaining assistance from the king. The end of the war also signalled the end for Gotzkowsky's manufactory. Today, the porcelain pieces from the early days marked with a W for Wegely und a G for Gotzkowsky are extremely rare and highly coveted collector's items. FoundationOn 19 September 1763, Frederick II officially became the manufactory's new owner. He purchased the manufactory for the considerable sum of 225,000 thaler and took over the staff of 146 workers. He gave the business its name and allowed it to use the royal sceptre as its symbol. From then on, it was called the Königliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Berlin ("Royal Porcelain Manufactory Berlin") and became a model of how to run a business. There was no child labour, there were regular working hours, above-average incomes, secure pensions, a healthcare fund and assistance for widows and orphans.RococoKPM Rococo-inspired porcelain vase and plinthAmong the manufactory's most important clients was Frederick the Great, who sometimes jokingly referred to himself as his “best customer”. From 1765 to his death in 1786, Frederick II placed orders with KPM for porcelain to the value of 200,000 thaler. For his palaces alone, he ordered 21 dinner services, each of them with 36 place settings and up to 500 separate parts, complemented by elaborate table centrepieces. The services’ design and colouring was meticulously created to match the interior decoration of the rooms in which they were to be used. Frederick commissioned the first KPM table service in 1765 for the New Palace in Potsdam. The dinner service known as Reliefzierat was designed in the Rococo style by modelling master Friedrich Elias Meyer, who would later design many more services for the king. The ornamentation of the relief, made of gilded rocailles and flower espaliers, finds its counterpart in the stucco ceiling of the New Palace. The following years saw the appearance of the Neuzierat, Neuglatt, Neuosier and Antique Zierat (later named Rocaille) dinner services, which are still produced today.In 1784, after a four-year development period, the king's desire for a soft and delicate shade of blue was fulfilled. The colour was known as Bleu mourant ("dying blue"), and it was used to decorate Neuzierat, Frederick's favourite dinner service. The colour was predominant in the king's private chambers at Sanssouci Palace and in the blue chamber of the New Palace in Potsdam, as well as in other castles.As owner of KPM, the king used the "white gold" as an effective means of diplomacy. Almost all of his diplomatic presents came from the manufactory, and they were to be found at the court of the tsars in Russia and on the tables of European aristocracy. 

Classicism: KPM porcelain krater vase given by Frederick William IV of Prussia to his sister Alexandrine, Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, c. 1851Under Frederick the Great's successor, his nephew Frederick William II, the manufactory became a technologically leading enterprise. The new king obtained what he needed in the way of porcelain from KPM, but stopped paying cash. The amounts due were deducted from his share of the profits. The manufactory flourished. From 1787 onwards, the average annual net profit came to more than 40,000 thaler. After the death of Frederick the Great, there was a stylistic turning point in Prussia. The cheerful soft-brush forms of Rococo gave way to the distinct lines of Classicism. In 1790, a dinner service in the new style was designed by KPM: KURLAND, which has been one of the greatest successes of the manufactory up to date. It bears the name of its commissioner, Peter von Biron, Duke of Kurland, one of the richest and most refined men of his time. Renowned artists of the time, like Karl Friedrich Schinkel, Johann Gottfried Schadow and his pupil Christian Daniel Rauch designed vases and sculptures for KPM. The most famous item among them is the Prinzessinengruppe (Two Princesses), after a design by Johann Gottfried Schadow. In the first half of the 19th century, KPM was a leader in the production of pictorial and veduta porcelain among the big European manufactories. One of the most important veduta painters was Carl Daniel Freydanck. Under the leadership of Georg Friedrich Christoph Frick, the manufactory's managing director from 1832, Freydanck designed a series of works depicting beautiful cityscapes of Berlin and Potsdam. Presented as regal gifts, they shaped the image of a new Berlin in the eyes of other European sovereigns. New manufactoryIn 1867, KPM had to make way for the construction of the Prussian Parliament close to Potsdamer Platz. The new building was on the edge of the Tiergarten. It cost 360,000 thaler. On account of its position by the river Spree, it was now possible to transport raw materials and manufactured goods on barges. Constructed between 1868 and 1872, it was equipped with the most modern techniques of the day.KPM has always been a pioneer in the ceramic industry from a technological aspect. This is particularly true regarding the discoveries and technical progress that came about in the late 19th century. Since 1878, the manufactory has been associated with a Chemical-Technical Research Institute. The institute's director, Hermann August Seger, produced numerous innovations that substantially increased KPM's proficiency in designing moulds and working with colours. Among his many inventions, Seger developed new kinds of porcelain underglaze colours, as can be seen on the wall plate showing a view of Berlin Cathedral. Oxblood, celadon, crystal- and dripped glazes were created, inspired by Chinese ceramics. They enabled new forms of artistic expression, which made Seger into an early pioneer of Art Nouveau.Art NouveauIn 1886, Alexander Kips was appointed artistic director of KPM Berlin. With painted porcelain tiles, he helped the company to achieve commercial success. His successor, Theodor Schmuz-Baudiss, artistic director as of 1908, promoted the use of Seger's glazes, and thus brought KPM fame and admiration at international art exhibitions.KPM's Wedding Procession is one of the most significant pieces of Berlin Art Nouveau. The sculptor, Adolf Amberg, created the design of centerpiece consisting of several figurines made of silver, in honour of the wedding of Crown Prince Frederick William of Prussia and Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. However, the design was too daring for the court, as the bride was depicted naked. Theodor Schmuz-Baudiss recognised the artistic significance of the design and had it transformed into porcelain in 1908. The Wedding Procession was awarded the gold medal at the 1910 World Exposition in Brussels.After the demise of the monarchy in 1918, KPM became the State Porcelain Manufactory Berlin. However, the KPM mark and the sceptre were retained.Bauhaus and New ObjectivityUnder the new director, Günther von Pechmann, the ideas of Deutscher Werkbund and Bauhaus influenced the craftsmen of KPM Berlin from 1929 onwards. The aim was to design contemporary, matter-of-fact household porcelain. Famous designs of this time encompass Trude Petri's dinner service URBINO, and Marguerite Friedlaender's Halle vases, created in cooperation with Burg Giebichenstein Art School.In the 1930s, the assumption of power by the National Socialists had serious consequences for many of KPM's artists: Marguerite Friedlaender was forced to emigrate because of her Jewish background. Ludwig Gies and Gerhard Marcks were dismissed and denied exhibitions because of their loyalty with Jewish colleagues. In 1941, the art teacher, painter and writer Gerhard Gollwitzer, who had been dismissed from his teaching position, became artistic director of KPM. In the nights of 22 and 23 November 1943, the manufactory's premises were destroyed in an Allied air raid.New pathsAfter World War II, KPM moved into temporary quarters in Selb, Upper Franconia, where there had once been plans to enlarge the company. From Franconia, KPM continued to supply the market with decorative porcelain and tableware. In the meantime, some of the staff reconstructed the Berlin premises. In 1957, manufacturing returned to the historic premises in Berlin's Tiergarten district after they had been rebuilt.As a result of a resolution adopted by the Senate of Berlin in 1988, KPM became a limited company and was now called KPM Königliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Berlin GmbH. In the 1990s, KPM began to re-emphasize its cultural and craft traditions. It rediscovered historic shapes, colours and patterns. Important dinner services from the era of New Objectivity were reissued. After the triumphant success of a vase collection launched in 1994, KPM presented the BERLIN dinner service, created in cooperation with the Italian modernist designer Enzo Mari.From 1998 to 2003, the KPM QUARTIER was refurbished by architects Gerkan, Marg and Partners according to curatorial standards. At the same time, the production technology was updated. In 2006, after several previous attempts at privatisation, Berlin banker Jörg Woltmann took over the Royal Porcelain Manufactory Berlin and became the sole shareholder. In the same year, KPM opened its newly designed sales gallery in the historic kiln hall. Additional KPM shops are located in Berlin, Potsdam, Hamburg and Cologne. In 2007, the company opened the KPM WELT exhibition at the KPM QUARTIER, a company museum dedicated to the company's 250 years of history and craftsmanship of making porcelain. In the recent past, new ground has been broken through collaborations with luxury brands, such as Bottega Veneta and Bugatti Automobiles. In 2011, KPM designed the exterior and interior of a Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport “L’Or Blanc” in cooperation with the car manufacturer. In 2012, a Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport “Wei Long” was outfitted with dragon motifs.On the occasion of KPM's 250th anniversary in 2013, the special exhibition Royal Porcelain Manufactory Berlin 1763-2013 provided a representative overview of the manufactory's creative periods, with 300 works from 18 private collections.

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