Important Porcelain Plaque

Friedrich Janecke

Königliche Porzellan Manufaktur Berlin (KPM), dated 1830.

Porcelain, fine polychrome painting in enamel coulours. Original giltwood frame with ornaments of gilded zinc.

Diamter tondo: 13.8 inch (350 mm)
Frame: 19.5 inch x 19.5 inch Ref No: 2033

Provenance: Schloss Erdamannsdorf (Silesia), Prussian General Field Marshal Cound Neidhardt von Gneisenau

The Subject

The tondo shows an allegory of peace. In the top center Apollo floating over clouds, the sun behind his head. In his right hand holding as a sign of the (military) victory a laurel branch, his left arm resting on the globe, on which the countries Ireland, England, France, Germany, Russia and Turkey are indicated.

Apollon is surrounded by the three Erinyes Alecto, Tisiphone and Megaera. They were in Greek myth female spirits of justice and vengeance (the Romans referred to them as Furies). Known especially for pursuing people who had murdered family members, the Furies punished their victims by driving them mad. When not punishing wrongdoers on earth, they lived in the underworld and tortured the damned. They are depicted between storm clouds, one carrying a torch and sword the hair entwined with serpents. The other two are holding serpents and a golden apple (as a symbol for the Fall of Man?) in their hands.

According to some stories, the Furies were sisters born from the blood of Uranus, the primeval god of the sky, when he was wounded by his son Cronus. In other stories, they were the children of Nyx (night). In either case, their primeval origin set them apart from the other deities of the Greek and Roman pantheons.

Although the Furies seemed terrifying and sought vengeance, they were not considered deliberately evil. On the contrary, they represented justice and were seen as defenders of moral and legal order. They punished the wicked and guilty without pity but the good and innocent had little to fear from them.


The Artist Friedrich Janecke

The artist Friedrich Janecke was born 1784 in Braunschweig and was first employed in the ”Stobwasserschen Fabrik” in Brunswick. In 1815 he joined the KPM Berlin and worked there until after 1850 as a figure painter. The catalogues from the Berlin Academy mention some KPM porcelain decorated by him. He is also listed there as figure painter of the KPM. Janecke was one of the outstanding painters of the KPM and belonged with an income of 729 thalers among the highest paid KPM painters of the time . In addition, he belonged since 1825 to the Council of Elders. In 1848 it came to a disagreement between the management and the Council of Elders, where the director Carl Georg Prössel mentions Janecke (as the only opponent by name) in a report to the Ministry: ”he always feels called on oppositions to be the speaker” . However, he added immediately, as one of the most talented figure painters, Janecke is indispensable, when it comes to large state commissions1.


The Frame

The elaborate gilt wood frame with corner ornaments made of cast gilded zinc is most likely based on a design by the German architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel and is comparable with a series of designs by the architect for the Gemäldegalerie Berlin2. Schinkel had to deal intensively with picture framing in the years before 1830, as it came to redesign the Art Gallery in the Royal Museum at the Lustgarten in Berlin, (nowadays the Altes Museum). About half of the 1196 paintings were frameless for a variety of reasons and received new frames after a design by Schinkel.

Schinkel was regularly asked beyond the framework project for the museum (1827-1830), to frame a painting, a relief or to design a mirror frame. Primarily he designed these commissions for members of the Prussian royal family, but also for foreign courts, friends, fellow artists, to numerous altarpieces and not least for his own paintings. In contrast to the museums context they were each created ”to the individual order”. 

Gneisenau was not only a patron and lover of the art by Schinkel (Schinkel painted several pictures for him), but he was also a close friend to him. In 1822 Schinkel was commissioned by Gneisenau, to design a grave monument in Erdmannsdorf for his 22-year-old deceased daughter Agnes von Scharnhorst. Schinkel took the job ”with melancholy and profound sympathy”, as he wrote in a letter to the family of Gneisenau and sent immediately a design drawing.



  • Schloss (palace) Erdmannsdorf (Silesia), inventory label ”Gen. Katal. No 3671”. There until the auction of parts of the Inventory on March 26th, 1928 by Emil Richter, Dresden. In the auction catalog (catalog no. 8). ”Aus Schloß Erdmannsdorf, ehem. Bes. Königs Friedrich Wilhelm III.” , lot 637 (Janecke, F.).
  • Then private collection, Rhineland/ Germany.


The Palace Erdmannsdorf3:

After the end of the wars of liberation against Napoleon, the retired Prussian Field Marshal Graf Neidhardt von Gneisenau settled down in the Hirschberger Tal, or rather, he exchanged in 1816 his estate Mittel-Kauffung against Erdmannsdorf. He noted about the acquisition: "The area is heavenly, the south side (to Schneekoppe) great, the midnight side (towards Lomnitz) most lovely. There are forests and ponds and the most beautiful meadows. I hope that with some intelligent effort, I will be able to form one of the the most beautiful estates, that are on earth"4.

Gneisenau remodeled the palace in a neoclassical style, raised a mezzanine and added a Belvedere with a shallow dome. After the decease of Gneisenau in 1831, Frederick Wiliam III, King of Prussia bought the estate Erdmannsdorf on the 21st of August 1832 from the heirs of Gneisenau for 136,000 thalers. In the same year Karl Friedrich Schinkel visited Erdmannsdorf for the first time to familiarize himself with the site of the palace. It was primarly some renovation work, that was carried out; the horseshoe-shaped Baroque palace architecture was newly plastered, painted in the King’s favourite colour light blue and grey and the interior was refurbished. The Biedermeier salon furniture after a design of Schinkel still exists and is nowadays on display in the Silesian Museum in Görlitz.

The appearance of the palace Erdmannsdorf in the 1830s was not only determined by Schinkel, but also by Frederick Wiliam III. The thrifty king who conceived the good taste as a strict, essentially classical style, has never made the use of Gothic architecture on secular buildings. He preferred the life of a simple country nobleman in Erdmannsdorf, just as in Paretz and similar to his several visits to Erdmannsdorf, when it still belonged to Gneisenau. As the new owner of the palace he arrived for the first time in August 1835.

After the death of Frederick William III. on June 7th, 1840 the palace was inherited by his second wife, Princess Liegnitz. She sold Erdmannsdorf very quickly to the new king, who then let her build a house in the Swiss style on the grounds of the palace complex. Frederick Wiliam IV visited already by the 15th-25th of August 1840 Erdmannsdorf, before his ‘Huldigungsfeier’ (ceremony) on the 8th of September in Königsberg. He arrived along with Stüler, the director of the Royal building committee. For this reason several members of the royal family had come and even the Empress of Russia.

Now the significant redesign of the castle was untertaken in the English Gothic style. Schinkel became meanwhile ill and so it is assumed that the redesign of the palace goes back exclusively to Stüler. After completion of the renovations the palace remained the summer residence of the royal Prussian family. In 1888 Prince Henry, son of the in the same year deceased Emperor Frederick III. briefly inhabited the palace, then a sister Charlotte of Saxe-Meiningen. In 1909 the palace was finally sold for 1,050,000 marks to Amtsrat Richter in Schönau bei Neumarkt, who auctioned off the entire inventory.

The inventory label indicates that this porcelain plaque was part of the collection of the palace Erdmannsdorff (until 1928), and thus in possession of King Frederick Wiliam III. and his successors. He bought Erdmannsdorf in 1832 after the decease of Gneisenau in 1831 (most probably with parts of the inventory). Since the plaque is dated 1830 it must have been previously in the possession of the Field Marshal. The image of the ‘Allegory of Peace’ and (military) victory fits brilliantly to the lifework of Gneisenau. It can therefore be assumed, that this precious KPM plaque might have been a gift to the 70th anniversary of the Field Marshal Gneisenau in the year 1830.

1 vgl.: Siebeneicker, Arnulf, Offizianten und Ouvriers, Sozialgeschichte der Königlichen Porzellan-Manufaktur und der Königlichen Gesundheitsgeschirr-Manufaktur in Berlin 1763-1880, Berlin, 2002, page 208 and 415.

2 vgl.: Roenne, von, Bettina, Ausstellungskatalog, Ein Architekt rahmt Bilder, Karl Friedrich Schinkel und die Berliner Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, 2007

3 vgl.: Marsch, Angelika, Erdmannsdorf (Mysłakowice), in Stiftung Kulturwerk Schlesien, (September 2014)

4 "Die Gegend ist himmlisch, die Mittagsseite (zur Schneekoppe) großartig, die Mitternachtsseite (nach Lomnitz) höchst lieblich. Da sind Wälder und Teiche und Waldung und die schönsten Wiesen. Ich hoffe, mit einiger Verstandesanstrengung, eines der schönsten Güter zu bilden, das die Erde hat."