Tureen with Galatea from the Swan Service for Count Heinrich von Brühl
Kaendler, Johann Joachim (1706-1775) | Chief Modeller
Eberlein, Johann Friedrich (1706-1775) | Modeller
Ordered by Count von Brühl, prime minister and confidant of Elector Friedrich August II, the legendary Swan Service is the largest and most magnificent table service ever produced in Meissen. The wealth of details shows how the modellers designed these serving dishes as sculptures in the round.
For over 200 years, the Swan Service was in the possession of the Brühl family. In 1945, much of it was lost when the Brühl estate was looted. The pieces on show here have been on permanent loan from the von Brühl family since the early 1900s.
For over 200 years, the Swan Service was in the possession of the Brühl family. In the late nineteenth century, they still owned around 1400 pieces of this luxurious table service. Unfortunately, we don’t know what happened to the missing 800 pieces. In the early twentieth century, the director of the Dresden Museum of Decorative Arts approached the family to request a loan of a representative selection of pieces. In 1907, the museum was initially given 12 pieces of the Swan Service on permanent loan, and then in 1920 another 25 pieces.
The Swan Service also suffered badly during the Second World War. Some pieces were destroyed; others were scattered across the globe after looting at the Brühl family estate of Schloss Pförten in Lower Lusatia. Fortunately, the pieces on loan in the Museum of Decorative Arts were packed into two large crates and placed in safe storage outside the city. Once the war was over, they were returned, more or less unscathed, to Dresden. Only nine pieces from this group were lost, including, for instance, the large sea nymph at the top right carrying a shell on her head. Most likely, this figure was stolen in the confusion of the post-war years. Later, by some unknown route, it then reached America. After the then director of the Dresden Porcelain Collection discovered it in a museum in Toledo, it was restituted to Count von Brühl’s descendants. Even today, all the Swan Service pieces on show here are on permanent loan from the von Brühl family.
- Material & Technique
- Porcelain with relief decoration, painting: overglaze colours and gold
- Meissen, 1738
- Inventory number
- PE 1450