8 June–31 December 2012 — Museen Dahlem
China and Prussia.
Porcelain and Tea
Museum für Asiatische Kunst
Examples of Chinese porcelain are on display that once formed part of the porcelain service for Frederick II, crafted sometime around 1755. The 'Royal Prussian Asiatic Company in Emden to Canton and China' was founded by the king and from 1750 to 1757 it sent four trade ships to East Asia. On its return to Emden in north Germany, one of these ships bore the dinner service, embellished with the Prussian coat of arms, as a gift for the king.
Parts of the service, mostly plates, will be on show in the Thronsaal in the museum's East Asian art division. The same room houses a contemporary artwork (Ai Weiwei's Teahouse from 2009) which forms a contrast to the porcelain. The installation spreads out around the ensemble of imperial thrones also on view in the room: masterpieces of Chinese lacquer art, dating from the mid to late 17th century.
The installation in the Thronsaal draws the visitor's attention to two central cultural specialities of the Far East, which under Frederick II formed the bridge with East Asia: porcelain and tea. The exhibition aims to highlight Prussia's relationship with China, an early chapter of the history of global trade and its impact on art.
The exhibition is being held as part of a wider series of events called 'Art - King - Enlightenment', coordinated by the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation in honour of the 300th anniversary of the birth of Frederick the Great on 24 January 2012.
© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, photo: Martin Franken