Tea set

ARTIST / MAKER: Hermann Thiele (designer)
Königliche Porzellan-Manufaktur (KPM) (manufacturer)
DATE: 1890 (made)
PLACE: Berlin (made)
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Porcelain painted in enamels and gilt

The Royal Porcelain Factory in Berlin (Königliche Porzellan-Manufaktur or KPM) was founded in 1763 by King Frederick II of Prussia. He had a personal interest in the design and manufacture of porcelain, then known as ‘white gold’, and almost all of his diplomatic gifts came from the factory. In 1765, Frederick the Great commissioned 21 porcelain dinner services for his own court, more than any of his contemporaries would have been able to acquire at this time. Until the abdication of Emperor William II in 1918, KPM was owned by seven kings and emperors.

The maker of this set, Hermann Thiele, is recorded at KPM in the 1890s and is recognised for his use of female heads in profile, considered his favoured motif, contributing to the Neo-Classical style that was popular in the 19th century. This motif is achieved with the pâte-sur-pâte technique where successive layers of white porcelain slip are applied to the vessel in relief and then lightly carved before firing to achieve the cameo-like effect. The technique itself was used in China in the 18th century but was perfected at Sèvres by Marc-Louis-Emanuel Solon and used at manufactories across Europe.