It is a special kind of puzzle: 88 individual pieces are meticulously assembled by hand in three days. Even for our most experienced employees, the Princess Group is an unusual challenge. We reveal the story behind this extraordinary porcelain figure.

Image: @tanjademmerath

Two sisters, arm in arm and in flowing robes - a symbol of grace, grace and beauty . Even 224 years after its creation, the sculpture has lost none of its perfection. Not all owners were so enthusiastic. The two princesses lived a shadowy existence in a dark corner of the Berlin Palace for several years and were almost forgotten...

But one after anonther! On December 24, 1793, the Crown Prince and later King of Prussia Friedrich Wilhelm and Princess Luise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz were married in the Berlin City Palace. Two days later, the crown prince couple's younger siblings, Prince Louis and Princess Friederike, were married at the same location. For the brothers' father, King Friedrich Wilhelm II, this was reason enough to have the sisters, who were already beautifully revered during their lifetime, immortalized. He initially commissioned the sculptor Johann Gottfried Schadow to create two portrait busts, which subsequently resulted in the commission for a life-size double statue of the princesses made of plaster, which was presented at an exhibition at the art academy in 1795. The arrangement of the two sisters was not only an artistic decision, but also indicates the different positions of Luise and Friederike: the older and higher-ranking Luise stands on the left according to the rules of heraldry, while Friederike is also placed slightly behind her later queen.

Masterpiece or scandal?

The group of princesses was such a success that a version made of Carrara marble followed. Schadow handed this commission over to the court sculptor, who finished work on it in 1797 - again in time for the annual academy exhibition. And again the audience was thrilled. So why did the statue disappear from public view for the next 90 years?

The client died shortly after the exhibition. Luise's husband, now King Frederick William III, was a sober and thrifty man who wanted to distance himself from his father's opulent regime. Apparently he was rather averse to the sensual portrayal of his wife . He disliked exactly what the audience appreciated so much: the natural depiction, far from any majestic pose, and the fact that the richly folded robes revealed the body shapes of the young women . The fact that the younger sister Friederike, who was known for being generous, had a reputation as the “most gallant lioness of the century” probably didn’t help either. So he first banished the work to a less than representative guest room before it disappeared completely from the public eye. The group of princesses only became accessible to a wider audience again in 1906 at the National Gallery's centenary exhibition. After two world wars and several changes of location, the marble original is now back in the Alte Nationalgalerie , the plaster version is in the Friedrichswerder Church , which has been rededicated as the Schinkel Museum .

Image @maisonpalme
Image: @stilzitat

What does all this have to do with porcelain?

The work on the porcelain figure was created at the same time as the marble group. The modeler Carl Heinrich Schwarzkopf was commissioned to recreate Schadow's model in 1796. However, he was only provided with the two portrait busts and in Schadow's eyes the result was not successful. That's why he assigned the task to Carl Friedrich Hagemann , whom he described as his most skilled student - and who delivered a satisfactory miniature on December 21st, then under the title “ The Crown Prince and Princess Ludwig ”.

Today the 55 cm high princess group is made from the finest bisque porcelain . The individual parts are fired twice at temperatures up to 1400°C and then not glazed. The surface retains a matt character that is reminiscent of marble. And then “just” you have to do the puzzle...