Royal Porcelain from the Twinight Collection, 1800–1850
September 16, 2008–August 9, 2009
Porcelain production in Europe in the first half of the nineteenth century was dominated by the royal manufactories in Berlin, Vienna, and Sèvres, just outside Paris. The combination of technical advances, royal patronage, and innovative factory administrators resulted in porcelain production of unusually high quality. The Twinight Collection, though formed in only the last fourteen years, has become one of the major repositories, either private or public, of European porcelain from 1800 to 1850. This exhibition brings together approximately seventy-five superb examples from these three European porcelain manufactories and illustrates the exchange of ideas and styles between the factories that resulted in some of the most remarkable porcelain ever produced.
Each factory represented in the exhibition was keenly aware of stylistic and technical developments taking place elsewhere, and the exchange of influences often makes it difficult to distinguish a given factory's product. Accordingly, the works of art in the exhibition are organized according to subject matter or type of decoration rather than place of manufacture. The choice of themes reflects several major artistic preoccupations of the era: ancient history, contemporary events, the natural world, and the changing cityscapes and landscapes of Europe. Within these decorative schemes the porcelain manufactories found an abundance of subjects, animating the resulting compositions through superb painting, inventive designs, and brilliant colors.
Many of the works on view in the exhibition were selected to be royal gifts at the time they were made. Vases, dinner services, and tea services frequently were presented to other members of the royal family, to foreign courts, or to honor a special achievement or service to the court. As such, these works reflect the highest aspirations of each manufactory and provide us with a spectacular record of the artistic tastes and interests of this chapter of European history.