Déjeuner set

ARTIST / MAKER: Königliche Porzellan-Manufaktur (manufacturer)
DATE: ca.1817 (made)
PLACE: Germany (made)
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Porcelain painted in overglaze enamels and gilt

This tea and coffee set has been hand painted to resemble Ancient Roman micromosaic and Florentine pietre dure, an intricate technique of inlaying cut semi-precious stones to produce an image. The imitation of these techniques on porcelain vessels was an invention of the KPM artists who, at the beginning of the 19th century, sought to fulfil the growing demand for outstanding and innovative designs by attempting to emulate Ancient Roman craftsmanship. The neoclassical style had become fashionable across Europe by the beginning of the 19th century, leading to the development of new porcelain models which adopted classical shapes and decorative schemes. This tea set also incorporates Egyptian motifs, such as the sphinxes on the finials of the lids. The octagonal shape of these vessels was technically difficult to produce and the gilding employed on both the exterior and the interior imitates metal. The use of birds in the decoration recalls the fashionable micromosaic travel souvenirs made at the Vatican during this period and KPM began producing bird micromosaic painting from around 1806 at the latest. Other firms, specifically the imperial porcelain works in Vienna and St. Petersburg emulated this style of producing faux micromosaic and pietre dure for a brief time.