Porcelain Circular Table in the manner of Karl Friedrich Schinkel

German, 19th Century

  • This item was purchased by Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

The base also of porcelain, the top of Apollo driving his chariot drawn by four white horses in a starry firmament, the gilded signs of the zodiac encircling him, the main border a densely-painted wreath of fruit and flowers, leaves and trompe l'oeil insects, set in a quarter-round concave matt and burnished gilt-metal border, the stem of overlapping leaves, a separate tripartite apron at the base, the tripod legs of leonine monopodia, on a gilt-metal incurved base. The only gilt-metal parts of this table are the rim and incurved triangular base platform and feet. Berlin, c. 1830.

Height 35½" (90cm).
Diameter 31" (79cm).

Literature :- Daniëlle O. Kisluk-Grosheide, Wolfram Koeppe, William Rieder, European Furniture in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Highlights of the Collection, 2006, no. 96, pp. 229-231.

There is a design by Otto Herman Emil Völcker of a wreath of fruit, flowers and leaves, dated 1832, which is almost identical to the top of this table, and from which it was almost certainly taken (KPM Archive, Schloß Charlottenburg). The very unusual central design can be attributed to August von Kloeber (1763-1864).

The table itself is very close to the work of Karl Friedrich Schinkel (1781-1841). A gilt-bronze candelabra by Schinkel in the New Pavilion in the park of Schloß Charlottenburg has very similar feet and shaft to this table (see Charlottenburg Palace, Berlin, ed. Winfried and Ilse Baer, 1995, p. 93). Also in the New Pavilion, in the Gartensaal, is a smaller circular porcelain table by Schinkel, with similar feet (see Barry Bergdoll, Karl Friedrich Schinkel, An Architecture for Prussia, 1994, figs. 96 and 98, pp. 94-5, also the exhibition catalogue Along the Royal Road, 1993, fig. 5-11, p. 79, the top also illustrated in the exhibition catalogue Carl Daniel Freydanck, 1987, fig. 24, p. 33). Another Schinkel circular table with a porcelain top by the KPM manufactory, which is in the collection at Schloß Köpenick, Berlin has a very similar rim to that on this present table (see the catalogue of the exhibition in the Altes Museum, Berlin, October 1980 - March 1981, Karl Friedrich Schinkel 1781-1841, no. 392, pp. 241-2). A page of designs by Schinkel of 1822 for a project in Stralow, in the Schinkel Museum, has an ‘S' scroll with rosettes which is very like the design between the top of the legs at the base of this table (ibid., no. 556, pp. 303-4). Furthermore, the very striking and unusual blue colour in the centre of the design of the top of this table is reminiscent of the blue used by Schinkel in his celebrated design for the Magic Flute (see the catalogue of the exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum, Karl Friedrich Schinkel, A Universal Man, 1991, ed. Michael Snodin, no. 28, pp. 108-9). The figure of Apollo, and particularly his horses, in the central design itself is also quite close to the same subject at the extreme right of a design by Schinkel of 1828 for the left hand wall of the Entrance Hall in the Museum am Lustgarten (1823-30), now the Altes Museum (see the catalogue of the exhibition in this museum referred to above, no. 234, pp. 147-152).

A similar conception, of the quadriga and advancing horses, is found in Flaxman's silver Achilles Shield, bought by George IV in 1821. The sculptor was in Italy for seven years in the late-18th century, and his designs were used throughout Europe. A micro-mosaic table top of c. 1823 by Benedetto Boschetti in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, lent by Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Gilbert, has a similar design. It has a smaller, but similarly densely designed wreath of flowers immediately encircling the centre stem. Both these tables may take their inspiration from the Sèvres Table de Saisons, designed by Alexandre Brongniart, the factory's Director, laboriously made between 1803 and 1806, and bought by the Emperor Napoleon in 1807. It is painted with Apollo in his chariot drawn by four white horses, surrounded by symbols of the zodiac and the seasons. All may stem from an antique intaglio engraved by de Montfaucon in his Antiquité Expliqué. These tables were extremely expensive, not only because of the extent and quality of the painting, but also because the firing of such large pieces of porcelain was subject to a two thirds failure rate.

We are very grateful to Professor Winfried and Dr. Ilse Baer for information contained in this description.

Request more info

Email this item