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05-17-10

Exhibition “The Fascination of Fragility” shows masterpieces of European porcelain in Berlin’s Ephraim-Palais

“A vivid picture of 18th-century European porcelain”

“This unique exhibition paints a vivid picture of 18th-century European porcelain,” said Director-General of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Prof. Martin Roth, in Berlin Sunday at the opening of the exhibition “The Fascination of Fragility. Masterpieces of European Porcelain” in the Ephraim-Palais. The entire spectrum of European porcelain is on show, from elegant French court porcelain and English wares to German and Italian porcelains with their bright colours and bold forms.

“For this exceptional show the Ephraim-Palais has been turned into a magical ‘Porcelain Palace’,” said the Director-General of the Stadtmuseum Berlin, Dr. Franziska Nentwig. “When presented in such an international context, the collected masterpieces of the most famous Berlin manufactory, the KPM, also develop their own special charisma.” This special exhibition in Berlin is part of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden’s tercentenary celebrations commemorating the invention of European hard-paste porcelain.

The exhibition - organised in association with the Stiftung Stadtmuseum Berlin – encompasses around 500 objects, including about a hundred porcelains from the holdings of the Porzellansammlung of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden. Porcelain wares from the Königliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Berlin held in the Stadtmuseum Berlin as well as items on loan from the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, the Hermitage in St. Petersburg and the Musée national du Céramique in Sèvres complete the exhibition. “The exhibition places Meissen Porcelain® within the context of European porcelain culture. Particular attention is therefore paid to masterpieces from other European manufactories,” said the Director of the Porzellansammlung of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Dr. Ulrich Pietsch.

Outstanding objects are on display from each of the approximately 50 manufactories. The exhibition focuses on the specific features of the products of each manufactory, as well as showing the shared elements which gave rise to a common tradition. Both the influence of Meissen Porcelain® on the wares produced by other manufactories and the effect of other European manufactories on the Saxon products is clearly illustrated. Exactly 300 years ago, August the Strong established the first European hard-paste porcelain manufactory in Meissen. Thereafter, Meissen Porcelain® swiftly became an indispensable status symbol for the European aristocracy. Until the middle of the 18th century, the Meissen Manufactory® was the leading force in porcelain design, setting standards for table and dining culture and laying down the entire repertoire of forms and styles of decor. From the mid-18th century onwards, there was a boom in the production of porcelain. Newly established manufactories entered into serious competition with Meissen. They emancipated themselves from the dominance of Meissen® and introduced their own innovations. Meissen® gradually lost the upper hand to Berlin and Sèvres, which now took over the leading role in Europe.

The Berlin architects Kuehn Malvezzi are presenting the porcelains in an unusual atmosphere, with the works of art arranged according to both their place of production and their chronology and set against a colourful background made up of fabrics and light installations. The exhibition architecture developed for this exhibition is intended to underscore the fascination and aesthetic quality of porcelain as a working material.

The exhibition “The Fascination of Fragility. Masterpieces of European Porcelain” will be on display in the Ephraim-Palais in Berlin from 9 May until 29 August, on Tuesdays and from Thursdays to Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Wednesdays from 12 noon until 8 p.m.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue published by E. A. Seemann Verlag Leipzig: “The Fascination of Fragility. Masterpieces of European Porcelain” by Ulrich Pietsch and Theresa Witting (eds.). Price: 49.90 Euro.

The exhibition “The Fascination of Fragility. Masterpieces of European Porcelain” is one of many highlights celebrating the tercentenary of the invention of hard-paste porcelain that are taking place over the course of this year.

In March the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden re-opened the Porzellansammlung in the Dresden Zwinger after a six-month period of closure. Whilst necessary construction work was carried out, New York architect Peter Marino redesigned the displays in the Bogen-galerie (‘curved gallery’), Langgalerie (‘long gallery’) and Tiersaal (‘animal hall’), re-sulting in an “opulent and brilliantly conceived stage-set in which August the Strong’s dream of a Porcelain Palace is imaginatively brought to life”. On 8 May, just one day before the opening of the Berlin exhibition, the exhibition “Triumph of the Blue Swords. Meissen Porcelain® for Aristocracy and Bourgeoisie 1710 - 1815” opened in the Japanisches Palais in Dresden.

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