Another genre of Royal Vienna porcelain dating from the turn of the century is that of decorative plates, often called ‘cabinet plates’. The term refers to the fact that the plates of this type were intended purely as decorative items – literally, displayed in a cabinet – rather than coming into contact with food. (see Royal Vienna Portrait Plaques for similar items in that genre and for some background in Royal Vienna pieces in general) Cabinet plates typically have wide rims lavishly embellished with gold, usually in a floral and/or foliage design.
This portrait, titled “Rose”, is signed Wagner and also bears a beehive mark (see Portrait Plaques for a discussion of the relative importance of that mark.) Measuring 9.5″ in diameter, the gilded rim is accented with several glass jewels and raised gilt elements.
Another Wagner, this time with a combination of a beehive mark and black star. Titled “Devotion”, the rim features raised gilt designs and blue enamel faux jewels. Diameter is 9.75″.
This Meissen plate is titled “Lauretta” and has a reticulated rim. Signed Wagner on the front and also ‘Ovington Bros. Co.’ on the reverse. Size just under 9.5″. The Ovington Brothers mark helps to date this plate because they were a high-end New York store selling fine imported china and crystal. The store opened in the late 1800s but they had a name change in 1920 to simply “Ovington’s”. Therefore this plate is definitely pre-1920s.
The inscription on the reverse identifies this as a portrait of Helene Sedlmayr, after the original painting by Joseph Karl Stieler. Signed Wagner and 9.5″ diameter, it has a beehive mark but the seller also claimed that it is a Hutschenreuther product; another source claims that they did not use the beehive.
This charming portrait plate is titled “Lissette.” Signed Wagner and with a beehive mark; typical 9.5″ plate size. A popular design, other versions by different artists such as Frisch have varying treatments of the ornate gilded rim such as the addition of small painted lozenges. A similar composition with a different girl in a different pose is often seen on a plate titled “Good Night.”
This “Lissette” plate was mounted in a marvelously ornate giltwood frame, probably at the same time that the plate was first purchased. It measures 17″ in diameter at the widest point when the frame is included, almost doubling the size of the plate itself! Although Royal Vienna portrait plaques were often framed, it is less common to see the cabinet plates given the same treatment.
This lovely cabinet plate is signed Wagner and marked “Hopfer depose” on the reverse along with a beehive mark. It’s unknown whether Hopfer refers to the title or to a retailer for whom this was made. Typical 9.5″ diameter and 1″ depth.
“Meditation” is marked only with a blue beehive on the reverse; a bit larger than typical at 10″.
Another beehive mark plate but signed Wagner. The title is “Sturm” (in English, ‘Storm’.) Diameter 9.5″.
This unusual oval shaped plate resembles a tray and possibly was used as one. Signed Wagner on the front, it is also marked 605 schmetterlinge Germany on the back. The word schmetterlinge means butterfly in German. The raised green jewel-like accents along the rim are enamel. Size is 12″ x 7.5″ which is large for a plate but seems somewhat small for a tray.
This lovely portrait is titled “Sommer” (Summer) and is slightly more than 9.5″ diameter. Signed Wagner with a beehive mark and “Dec. 166” on the reverse. Perhaps this indicates a decoration design number for the rim, which is an appropriate motif of flowers and foliage.
The only information provided about this cabinet plate was a diameter of 16″ which is almost double the usual size for this genre, and a caption stating that it is Wagner although a signature is not visible in the photograph.
A fuller signature on this 9.75″ portrait plate of Catherine de Medici is “S. Wagner Wein”. On the reverse is inscribed Catharina von Medici 1519-1580 Carriera although the final year of Catherine’s life was actually 1589. This is a much less common portrait depiction of Catherine as well, but here she is shown as a younger woman.
The “S. Wagner Wein” signature appears on this 9.5″ plate as well, and it is marked H. L. Justina Nach Moretto under the glaze on the back. The subject is Saint Justina, taken from the painting “St. Justina with the Unicorn” circa 1500 by Alessandro Bonvincino who was also known as “Il Moretto.” The German word for saint is “heilige” and so that must be what the first letter of the plate inscription represents. Apparantly there are two Saint Justinas – one from Padua and the other from Antioch – and art historians are divided as to which one the Moretto painting represents.
Vases and other decorative Royal Vienna items are the focus of the next post.