The Japanese service is the last of six services ordered by Frederick the Great, and arguably reflects most perfectly the king’s artistic taste. In November 1762 Frederick gave specific instructions on how the service should be modelled and painted; the forms were to be ‘antique’
[antique or old fashioned and shell like] imitating silver shapes and painted with ‘…Elephanten, Venozeros… und andere Indianische Thiere und Vogel’,
[…Elephants, Rhinoceros… and other Indian animals and birds.]i
The King chose yellow, as the colour of the Emperors of Imperial China it perfectly suited the fantastical interiors of the Chinesisches Haus
(designed by Johann Gottfried Büring between 1755 and 1764).
The first significant group from this service to appear at auction were fifteen plates from the collection of Baron Erich von Goldschmidt-Rothschild that was sold at Christie’s Geneva, 9th
May 1988, lots 152-166;ii
since then pieces have infrequently appeared at auction, two plates were in the Gustav and Charlotte von Klemperer collection, subsequently sold Bonhams London, 8th
December, lot 70. Pierced dessert plates rarely appear at auction, two were sold at Christie’s London, 11th
December 2007, lot 106 and 107. Beaucamp-Markowsky, op. cit.,
illustrates a pierced plate in the Cologne Kunst-und-Gewerbe Museum, p. 20, fig. 4; a further pierced plate is in the Frick collection, New York.
[i] Beaucamp-Markowsky, op. cit., p. 19; Wittwer, op. cit., 2009, p. 41.
[ii] A plate from this group recently resold at Christie’s London, 10th July 2007, lot 128.