This month’s museum feature showcases a variety of rare and exquisite pieces from Royal Copenhagen’s Flora Danica pattern. Sought after by collectors around the globe, Flora Danica is considered one of the most luxurious porcelain patterns ever produced, and is one of the oldest patterns still in production. The Flora Danica collection featured here includes a soup tureen with lid, an ice basin, a tea pot, and a cup and saucer set. These pieces are quite exotic and very rare, with intricate decoration that includes sculptured flowers, handles shaped like branches, and a flower and leaf design that covers the fine porcelain bodies.
The Danish monarchy commissioned Royal Copenhagen to begin this pattern in 1790 as a gift for Catherine the Great of Russia, who died before artisans completed the original service. The pattern motifs and name are based on the historic botanical encyclopedia, “Flora Danica” which means “flowers of Denmark”, and features thousands of flora native to the Danish country. The task of creating Flora Danica was given to Johann Christoph Bayer. Bayer spent twelve years hand-molding and hand-painting each of the articles that would comprise the first Flora Danica dinnerware service. By the time he was finished, the set comprised 1,802 different hand-crafted, hand-molded, and hand-painted pieces. The service exhibited unique brushstrokes, handles, and other intricate attributes.
The first time that Flora Danica graced a table was on January 29, 1803 at a birthday party for the king. Today, 1,503 pieces of the original 1,802-piece service survive, and most of those pieces continue to be used by Queen Margrethe II on the Christiansborg Palace table. Some pieces have been moved to Rosenborg Castle for display and others reside at Amalienborg Palace, the official home of the queen.
The next production of a Flora Danica service was done in 1863 as a wedding gift to Princess Alexandra and King Edward VII of England. Queen Alexandra’s Flora Danica dinnerware now resides in Windsor Castle and is used by Queen Elizabeth II, her family, and guests. More recently, the Danish people gave a service of Flora Danica to Crown Prince Frederik and Mary Donaldson when they wed on May 14th, 2004. This Flora Danica service bears the couple’s insignia as designed by the Crown Prince’s mother, Queen Margrethe II. It is easy to see the exceptional design pedigree of this pattern in the pieces featured here.
Over the years, the Flora Danica line has also expanded to include Game Series pieces which are decorated with a variety of different bird and animal motifs, as well as specially commissioned items like the 144-piece set commissioned by noted porcelain collector Richard Baron Cohen, featuring 303 different hand-painted hippopotamus designs.
The Royal Copenhagen Flora Danica pieces in our museum are not for sale, but we do have many gorgeous Flora Danica and Game Series items available for purchase in our inventory; be sure to browse our web site. And remember that we always invite you to visit our facilities – here you’ll see a stunning variety of silver, china, crystal, and collectibles. Our retail store and museum are open from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm ET, 7 days (except holidays); free tours are available from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm ET, 7 days. The retail store and museum are conveniently located between Greensboro and Burlington, NC, at exit 132 off Interstate 85/40. We look forward to seeing you.