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Featured Museum Piece

Flora Danica Game Bird Plates and Henriette Vases From Royal Copenhagen

This month we are exhibiting from our museum several very rare pieces from Royal Copenhagen’s Flora Danica and Henriette patterns. From Flora Danica we have 3 “Game Bird” dinner plates measuring 10” in diameter. Each piece of these amazing plates has an intricately hand-painted bird illustration with a fluted, gold-trimmed border that resembles lace. Every piece in Flora Danica, from start to finish, is painstakingly hand-crafted, and it shows. The vases from the Henriette pattern (which can also be viewed by clicking the link below) have a multi-paneled white body and are copiously trimmed in gold with small floral bouquets. The two vases beautifully complement the game bird plates.

Both Royal Copenhagen and the Flora Danica pattern in particular possess a distinctly royal lineage. Flora Danica has it roots in the Danish and Russian monarchy, which contributes to its reputation as one of the most prestigious dinnerware services in the world. Flora Danica was commissioned by Danish Crown Prince Frederik on behalf of King Christian VII in 1790, who was actually having the set made for Catherine the Great of Russia. (Rumor has it that the two were having an affair.) Catherine the Great loved collecting porcelain, and Christian VII was hopeful that receiving (from him) an extraordinarily-designed set the likes of Flora Danica would make her very, very happy. The Royal Copenhagen Porcelain Manufactory, founded in 1775, was asked to create a service fit for royalty, with the motif being a floral study. The task of creating Flora Danica was given to artisan Johann Christoph Bayer. Bayer spent 12 years hand-molding and hand-painting each of the pieces that would comprise the first “Flora Danica” dinnerware service. By the time he was finished, 1,802 different hand-crafted, hand-molded, and hand-painted pieces comprised the set! The service exhibited unique brushstrokes, handles, and other intricate attributes. Each floral study was carefully replicated from a Danish botanical encyclopedia called Flora Danica. Tragically, Catherine the Great died in 1796 and never received the service that was originally commissioned for her. As a result, Flora Danica became the dinnerware service of the Danish monarchy.

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 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. Most 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. Although Flora Danica has its roots in royalty, the pattern is available for purchase by the public, and Royal Copenhagen continues to make the service using the same hand-crafted processes that have been strictly adhered to for more than two centuries. Royal Copenhagen’s Flora Danica is truly amazing, so if you can make it to our facilities in person to see these exquisite pieces, by all means do so!

While the beautiful Flora Danica plates and Henriette vases that we feature here, like all of our museum pieces, are not for sale, we do offer a great array of beautiful Royal Copenhagen and Flora Danica and Henriette pieces available for purchase. We invite you to come to our facility in person to see these wonderful pieces, and more. Our Showroom and Museum are open from 9:00am to 7:00pm ET, 7 days a week (except holidays). The Showroom and Museum are conveniently located between Greensboro and Burlington, NC, at exit 132 off Interstate 85/40. We look forward to seeing you!

Click here to view our Featured Museum Pieces Archive!

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