Exceptional KPM porcelain 'micro-mosaic' tea and coffee service

By KPM, Konigliche Porzellan-Manufaktur (German, founded 1763)


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This exceptional and rare tea and coffee service is comprised of a teapot and cover, a coffee pot and cover, a sugar bowl and cover, a milk jug, and two cups with saucers, with each individual piece of octagonal form, the porcelain throughout profusely gilt and decorated with painted panels.

The service was produced by the Royal Porcelain Factory in Berlin, otherwise known as KPM, between 1823 and 1832. The highly unusual, and somewhat radical, octagonal shape of the pieces, as well as the intricate trompe l’oeil painted decorations of faux micro-mosaic and pietra dura panels, stem from a contemporary desire to break with the forms and styles of the Rococo and to develop a new Neoclassical iconography suited to the age.

The German art historian and archaeologist Johann Joachim Winckelmann, who lived between 1717 and 1768, is one of the most important and influential historians of the past several centuries. Winckelmann was instrumental to the recovery and revival of interest in both micro-mosaic and Florentine style pietra dura inlays as fashionable decorative forms. Beginning in the second half of the 18th Century, Grand Tourists brought pieces adorned with micro-mosaics and pietra dura back to Germany from Italy. Frederick the Great, who ruled Prussia from 1740 to 1786, amassed a great collection of antiquities and pieces adorned with these newly fashionable decorative forms. In response to this fashion, beginning in the early 19th century, KPM began to produce designs that imitated both micro-mosaic and pietra dura. The present set is an example of the highest standard of production within this fashion.

The pieces in the set are painted with scenes in faux micro-mosaic of the ruins of Rome and its environs, alternating with faux pietra dura panels depicting classical musical instruments above a lapis lazuli ground. The micro-mosaic and pietra dura panels are surrounded with profusely tooled and matted-gilt panels, as well as further faux pietra dura panels of flowers above a red ground. Most of the views of the depicted Roman ruins come from engravings in the 1815 publication A select collection of views and ruins in Rome and its vicinity: recently executed from drawings made upon the spot by the publishers J. Mérigot and R. Edwards.

While the forms and decorative scheme are distinctly classical, the gilt-tooled reclining sphinxes on the covers reference the contemporary interest in Egyptian revival, occasioned largely by Napoleon’s expedition to Egypt in 1798.

Each piece is marked and stamped for KPM.

Tea pot: Height 19cm, width 20cm, depth 8cm
Milk jug: Height 10cm, width 11cm, depth 6cm


Artist / Maker
By KPM, Konigliche Porzellan-Manufaktur (German, founded 1763)
Country of Origin
Date of Manufacture
c. 1830
Early 19th Century
Egyptian Revival, Neoclassical
Gold, Green, Multi-coloured, Red, White


19 cm / 7.5 inches
20 cm / 7.9 inches
8 cm / 3.1 inches


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