Details & Cataloguing

Royal & Noble


A German rococo style gilt-bronze and Berlin (K.P.M.) porcelain twenty-one light chandelier based on a royal model the gilt-bronze mainly 18th century, the porcelain mainly late 19th century with earlier elements
some flowers later and from different factories, some restoration and re-painting
approx. 168cm. high, 66 in.; approx. 114cm. diameter, 45 in.
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Sotheby's New York, The Collection of Suzanne Saperstein, 19 April 2012, lot 70.

Catalogue Note


Georg Lenz, Berliner Porzellan, die Manufaktur Friedrich des Grossen 1763-1786,  Berlin 1913, p. 25, ill. 104;
Kaiserlicher Kunstbesitz aus dem Holländischen Exil Haus (exh. cat.), Doorn, Berlin, 1991 for a discussion and illustration of the comparable chandelier by Pierre Geoffroy, p. 111, Cat. nr. 103.

This impressive chandelier is based on a royal model from the first period of friderizianisches Rokoko from the celebrated Köningliche Porzellan Manufaktur (K.P.M.), considered the most beautiful Rococo porcelain produced in Germany. Two large 15 and 21 light chandeliers first appear on Christmas 1765 in the King's Privy Purse invoices, under acquisitions from the Porcelain Manufactory. The only known stamp on equivalent chandeliers belongs to Pierre Geoffroy, who headed the bronze workshop of the K.P.M. and died in 1765, which helps confirm a probable date of creation for the present model. In 1753, the bronzeur Pierre Geoffroy came to Potsdam from Paris to be employed in the Factory of Ormolu Works founded by Johann Melchior Kambly in 1752.

The porcelain figures of Fame and the cherubs in this chandelier are after a model by Friedrich Elias Meyer (1723-1785), who was the head of the figure making section of the Gotzkowsky Manufactory and who was appointed the "Directeur des Ornaments" of the Manufactory at the time of Frederick the Great. In the KPM book of models, which had been kept since 1763, the large crown chandeliers with the two figures of Fame are entered under Model number 111; One Fame, seated, holding the trumpet low drawn with B, and under Model number 173; two seated children on a case, were also used on the large 'Crown chandelier, one with A, one with B.

The frequent payments from the royal purse for the K.P.M. ‘crown’ chandeliers leads one to assume that such pieces were preferred gifts by Frederick the Great to other courts and the current lot is a testament of the lasting impression these spectaculars objects produced. The chandelier offered here is the same model as three chandeliers delivered to Potsdam (one now in Huis Doorn, Netherlands) and one given to Frederick the Great’s niece who married the Prince of Orange (now in Het Loo), although the porcelain seems to be produced in the late 19th century, possibly using some old elements. It is interesting to note that there are archival references which mention the K.P.M. factory as having two 18th century chandeliers of this model still in their inventory in the 19th century (SPSG. The Archives of the Neues Palais, Postdam, Hist. Akten. Nr.264. fol.6 and fol.11, 1821). These might have been the basis for K.P.M. re-issuing a few examples of the model in the late 19th century using old elements – such as the bronze crown completed with newly made pieces. This appears to be the case with another chandelier of this model now in the Berlin Kunstgewerbemuseum at Schloss Koepenick, which was acquired by the museum directly from the K.P.M. factory in the early 20th century, and described in the accessions register as being composed of ‘old and new elements’. 

We are grateful to Drs Samuel Wittwer and Käthe Klappenbach at the Stiftung Preußische Schlösser und Gärten and Dr Claudia Kanowski of the Berlin Kunstgewerbemuseum for allowing us to examine the K.P.M. chandeliers in their collections

Royal & Noble