Lot 4266

Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria – an unparalleled coffee and tea service with parrot motifs, Porcelain Manufacture Nymphenburg, circa 1810/20

International Orders & Military Collectibles | A89m | Live auction | 454 Lots

Hammer price € 30,000

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The service was inspired by the two-volume work "Histoire naturelle des perroquets" by Francois Levaillant, with illustrations by Jacques Barraband, which was published in 1801 and 1805. Complete 16-piece service in hard-paste porcelain with outstanding, hand-painted décor in vibrant overglaze colours and lavish gilding, the lozenge shield in the form of 1810 to 1850 pressed into the base, along with diverse incised marks. Comprising a lidded coffee pot with gilding on the overhanging ring stand, the spout, the handle, the plate-shaped flaring neck and the lid, with its acorn-shaped knob, the vase-like body panels featuring a depiction of the "perroquet à flanc rouges" and a "perroquet grand lori (male)", overall height 25.5 cm. The teapot also embellished with gilding on the ring stand, spout, handle and lid, the cup-shaped panels with a depiction of a "lori à franges bleues" and a "(variété du) lori à collier". Total height 20 cm. The cream jug also gilded on the base, neck and handle, the vase-shaped body panels with a depiction of a "perroquet lori nouara", height 19.5 cm. The sugar dish mounted on three claw feet, gilding on the rim and lid with its swan handle, the cup-shaped body with a depiction of a "(seconde variété du) perroquet cendré", "(variété du) perroquet à face rouge" and a "perroquet brun". Overall height 19 cm. The twelve cups with saucers all embellished with gilding on the overhanging bases, the moulded handles with coiled swan-necks and mascarons at the end of the handles and on the inner surfaces, with other, different illustrations of parrots from the work of Francois Levaillant on the front. Height of the cups approx. 74 mm, at the handles approx. 93 mm. The saucers with gilt rims, the centre with gilt borders and circular gilding in the middle, diameter 13 cm.
An unparalleled service of superb quality and in perfect, unchipped and unused condition.
According to family tradition, Emperor Napoleon I apparently presented a work on the various species of parrots, which had been published in 1805, to the Bavarian King, Max I Joseph, an enthusiastic ornithologist, at a meeting in Paris. The King commissioned the Manufaktur Nymphenburg to produce this service as a gift for a friend of his, a physician and fellow ornithologist, based on this reference work. The King's passion for ornithology was not least reflected in the construction of the menagerie in Nymphenburg, where he also kept parrots; this is borne out by the picture of a macaw in the menagerie, painted by Philippe Leclerc in 1813, which is in the Staatliche Graphische Sammlung in Munich. Francois Levaillant (1753 - 1824) was a French author, scientist and ornithologist. His numerous ornithological works are regarded as groundbreaking; in the process, he disregarded biological nomenclature and only assigned French names. Jacques Barraband (approx. 1767 - 1809) was an important illustrator of zoological and botanical works. His naturalistic drawings are considered the most accurate of the 18th century.

Provenance: Acquired by the consignor during the 1970s from a descendant of the physician and ornithologist who had been a friend of the King's; however, the provenance of this service was passed on without disclosing the name. At any rate, the part of the account relating to the book of parrot species that was published in 1805 can be verified, as the second volume of Francois Levaillant's "Histoire naturelles des perroquets" was in fact printed in Paris in 1805. Moreover, the illustrations by Jacques Barraband match the depictions of parrots on the service perfectly, apart from slight variations in the colouring and minor details (Barraband mainly drew gnarled branches, while the Manufaktur Nymphenburg added leaves in most cases). The following quotation illustrates the high esteem in which Napoleon held Levaillant's work: "After he had made himself Emperor, it was part of Napoleon's deliberate policy to initiate a series of magnificent publications that would vie with those undertaken on the orders of Louis XIV. These were sent as presents to crowned heads, men of science, and learned bodies, in evidence of the splendours of the Empire [...]. The works of Levaillant owe their sumptous character to [...] this impetus. His Histoire naturelle des perroquets is, unwittingly, a part of the glories of Napoleonic France", cf. Fine Bird Books, p. 90.

Condition: I - Questions about the lot?

General Information

The auction includes 454 lots and starts on Tuesday, June 1, 2021 at 10 am (CET). Lot no. 4001 - 4454. The pre-sale view will take place from 19 - 22 May, 25, 29 and 31 May 2021. However, the number of participants for both auction and viewing is limited due to Covid-19 restrictions and requires an appointment. Prior to any visit please check our website - we'll up.