European Porcelains and Glasses

There are approximately 5,000 examples of porcelain ware produced in various countries in Europe in the palace collection. These pieces comprise German, French, Austrian, and Russian porcelains produced between the beginning of the 18th century and the beginning of the 20th century as well as faïence from Warsaw, Italy, and Spain. Among these works (an important part of which entered the palace collection by way of purchase transfer from Yıldız Palace) are many early period European porcelains sent to the sultan and to palace dignitaries as gifts of state. These pieces are especially striking for their fine craftsmanship. German Porcelains The first producer of porcelain in Germany was the chemist Johann Friedrich Böttger, who worked under the patronage of Augustus II the Strong, King of Poland and Elector of Saxony. The German porcelains in the Topkapı Palace collection comprise porcelains stamped as Meissen, Dresden, Höchst, Berlin, Frankenthal, and Nymphenburg. Meissen porcelain holds an important place in German porcelain production. The palace collection includes examples of early Meissen porcelain, dated 1717. A second group of porcelains in the collection are the Berlin porcelains stamped as KPM. Among the collection’s most beautiful pieces are a porcelain clock, dated 1857 and signed by Tallibart, and a pair of candelabra. The third group of German porcelains in the collection are products of the Höchst porcelain factory which was located in the Principality of Mainz and began production in 1746. Porcelains produced in the Nymphenburg porcelain factory between 1769 and 1774 make up the fourth group of German porcelains in the palace collection.

Austrian Porcelains Throughout the 18th century and in the first half of the 19th century, the porcelain factories of Meissen and Vienna put great care into ensuring that the porcelains they exported to the Ottoman Empire were produced in such a way as to accord with Ottoman traditions and customs. The pieces made for the Ottoman palace with this in mind include covered plates, trays, candy boxes and coffee kettles.

Among the oldest and most important of the Viennese porcelains in the palace collection are a basin and pitcher set and a dining service set produced in 1730. French Porcelains French porcelains are an important part of the European porcelain tradition. Production began between 1738 and 1756 at the Château de Vincennes near Paris. One of the most important pieces of French porcelain in the Topkapı Palace collection is a dining set decorated with a forest view which was produced in the time of Louis-Philippe, King of the French (r. 1830-1848).

One group among the collection’s French porcelains comprises of pieces produced at the porcelain factory established in Limoges in 1770. Among these works is a statuette of a pair of pigeons, made in 1867 and signed by Comolera. Also among the French porcelains are the products of private workshops such as Baschet & Frère, Brever Brianchon and Rousseau. These include two covered plates produced by Rousseau and decorated with the imperial seal of Sultan Abdülmecid (r. 1839-61) and a pattern of Turkish flags, several pitchers, glasses, plates, and bowls bearing the stamp of Jacob Petit (items which began to be produced in Paris in the 1820s). These pieces are among the finest examples of French porcelain in the palace collection.

Russian Porcelains All of the Russian porcelains in the palace collection were produced in the time of Tsar Nicholas I (r. 1825-55) in the imperial porcelain factory in St. Petersburg. These porcelains were sent by Nicholas I to Sultan Mahmud II (r. 1808-39) as gifts of state (archival documents state that what was sent was a dining set consisting of 2,000 pieces). Currently, however, the collection comprises of approximately 450 pieces of Russian porcelain.

European Faïence Among the palace collection’s examples of European faïence—which includes pieces produced in Spain, France, and Germany—perhaps the finest is the dining set sent as a gift of state in October 1732 to Sultan Abdülhamid I by Stanisław Poniatowski, later to be King and Grand Duke of the PolishLithuanian Commonwealth (r. 1764–95). This set was produced in imitation of Japanese Imari porcelain, and the pieces are inscribed with words in praise of the sultan.

European Glassware The palace’s European glassware collection comprises of basin and pitcher sets, candy bowls, covered bowls, large and small plates, carafes and glasses, sherbet glasses and pitchers, coffee cups and holders, chandeliers and candelabra. Bohemian glass and crystal make up an especially important part of the collection. Beginning in the first half of the 17th century, a new variety of glass began to be manufactured in Bohemia using a technique that revolutionized the glassmaking industry. Among the works in this collection is a set consisting of a decanter and six glasses, produced expressly for Sultan Abdülhamid II (r.1876-1909) by Ludwig Moser, who worked at the Bohemia Glassworks between 1857 and 1893. The palace collection also includes French, English, and Russian glassware.