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Style Other / Ref.14081

Emanuel SCHMUTZER for the Royal Porcelain Manufactory Berlin (KPM), jardinière decorated with a Nök and a Néréide, 1898 (1900 Paris Exposition)

Width: 27'' ½  70cm
Height: 12'' ⅝  32cm
Depth: 18'' ⅞  48cm

19th century

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This jardinière was made at the Royal Porcelain Manufactory in Berlin, based on a model by the sculptor Emanuel Schmutzer dating from 1898. It was exhibited at the 1900 Paris Exposition.

The "Königliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Berlin" (KPM) was founded in 1751, but did not take on this name until 1763, when Frederick II of Prussia bought it. For a long time, it was one of the most innovative. In 1880, Hermann August Seger, head of its chemical-technical research institute, developed a new type of soft-paste porcelain that gave artists greater freedom of movement and enabled the creation of new forms of artistic expression. As a signature, works from the manufactory are marked with the "KPM" seal and a cobalt-blue sceptre and royal globe.

Our planter, with its sinuous Art Nouveau lines, is emblematic of the manufactory’s production in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It was designed by Emanuel Schmutzer, a sculptor and supplier of models to the manufactory. Little is known about his life and work. However, thanks to the manufactory’s archives, we know that another vase by him, featuring a Nereid, was also exhibited at the 1900 Paris Exposition, as shown in a photograph published in Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration (1900).

Schmutzer’s partially enamelled blue-green and beige porcelain jardinière imitates the movement of water. From this aquatic environment emerge two figures facing each other, adopting the curve of the vase. The first, masculine and menacing, is that of a triton with powerful muscles reaching out towards the second, a mermaid trying to escape. The two figures stand out in high relief, adding to the curves of the planter. These sculptures actually represent a "Nök" and a "Nixe". In Norse mythology, the Nöck is a fantastic creature reputed to guard rivers and live in all aquatic environments. The Nixe is its female counterpart. It was said that the Nök, who took the form of an old bearded man with green teeth and a hat of the same colour, could take the shape of a fish, a human or a snake; here, the sculptor represents him as half-man, half-fish.

The work was presented at the Paris Exposition in 1900, an opportunity for KPM to showcase its formal innovations. Emanuel Schmutzer’s vase was thus exhibited as a fine example of the flexibility and delicacy made possible by Seger’s invention, as well as the new forms invented at the time.

There are two other known examples of this work, one in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the other in the Stadtmuseum in Berlin. The latter has a glaze similar to that of our jardinière and is fairly close in terms of colour and brilliance. The one in London, on the other hand, is a porcelain white with only slight hints of colour; it is therefore far removed from the more naturalistic interpretation of the one in the Stadtmuseum and of the one of the Marc Maison gallery's.

Price: on request

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