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Robert S.
Robert S., Antiques and Collectibles Researcher
Category: Antiques
Satisfied Customers: 4663
Experience:  Expert in decorative arts especially ceramics, silver, paintings, and furniture.
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I have a large handpainted, porcelain vase on a pedestal.

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I have a large handpainted, porcelain vase on a pedestal. The scenery on the front, is of Wartburg Castle (of germany), on a hill surrounded by trees, and there are people walking in the foreground. The rest of the vase has gold inlay scrolling around the rest of the piece. It was brought from germany by my 3x great grandfather in the 1830s. Can you tell me if it is a significant piece?
Customer: replied 5 days ago.
I forgot to mention that is has a blue sceptor mark on the bottom

Hi Katherine,

My name is ***** ***** I would be happy to help with your interesting vase.

Thanks for the photo of the bottom and the sceptre mark.

Can you very kindly attach a couple of photos of the vase itself.

Also, how tall is it?

Many thanks,

Customer: replied 4 days ago.
The vase is about 16 inches tall
Customer: replied 4 days ago.
This is the back side.

Hi Katherine,

Thanks so much for the dimensions and photos. What a beautiful piece of porcelain!

That's all I need. Leave this with me and I'll have a full answer and a value for you as soon as I can.

Best wishes,

This vase is a beauty and extremely rare. It is also very skillfully decorated, from the scenic panel (known as a "veduta" or 'topographical') in colors at the front, to the densely decorated rinceaux and lambrequin patterns in gold enamel, all meticulously painted by hand.

The form of the urn itself is derived from a classical Hellenic Greek vessel called a krater (in German known as a Redensche vase). All of these can be traced back to one in particular called the Medici krater, now in the Uffizi gallery in Florence, over five foot tall, and carved from a single block of marble by the Greeks nearly 2000 years ago and sold to the Romans as a garden ornament.

So what about the date of yours? This is certainly a very old piece of KPM, and from way before 1837 when the initials "KPM" became part of the mark. The form and the type of decoration, and the sceptre mark on the bottom, all date it emphatically to the German Neo-Classicism period, circa 1790 - 1810.

So this is a museum piece. KPM veduta Medici vases from this period do not come up for sale that often, as you may imagine, so finding comparables is not easy.

However, if you were ever to sell, and I would recommend a top antique auction house such as Christies, Bonhams, Skinners, etc, it would fetch in the range of $5000 - $7500. Possibly more since you have its entire provenance and history since at least as far back as the 1830s. If you can add any information as to its link to Wartburg Castle, then you can certainly nudge the upper end of the auction value up to $8K or more.

I would therefore insure it for at least $15,000.

I do hope this helps!

Please let me know if you'd like me to explain or expand on any of the above, I would be glad to.

Best wishes,

Customer: replied 3 days ago.
Wow! Thank you for that info. That is very interesting stuff. The story goes, that my 4x great grandfather, Dr. Ferdinand Koempf, brought this vase/urn (from Germany) with him wrapped in a feather mattress. Since then, my mother told me that a local museum in Hermann, Missouri, told her that there was only 2 of them made. In which only one of them had a check mark on the window/room, that Martin Luther exiled to in the early 1800s. Unfortunately ours not marked with that special mark. Hermann, Missouri is where Dr. Koempf settled as a Dr., where he married a native Missourian.

Completely fascinating! What a great story, now I want to know where the one with the check mark got to!

Make sure you write all that down and put it in an envelope and keep it with the urn. A family story like that so easily gets lost if there's just one break in the oral transmission from generation to generation. Also, building up an archive to go with the piece will enhance and authenticate it enormously and of course it helps to interpret it properly for future generations and let them understand just how special this piece is.

Best of luck with it and thanks so much for asking me about it, it made my day to see it!

Customer: replied 3 days ago.
Thank you for listening, and sharing. I will make sure to write it down. There was a couple of photos inside also and a little note. There was also a pic of Dr. Koempf's headstone, and a photo of a silver tea set. I have no idea where the silver went?

That's all great material for the archive. In fact the best solution would be to create a framed shadowbox story-board that could be hung on the wall wherever you have the vase displayed.

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