A large ornamental Viennese gilt porcelain vase depicting Charles V, after Hans Makart
Signed Franz Dörfl, Austrian, active c.1902–1912
Height 130cm, diameter 34cm
Meticulously executed and adorned with an immaculate and elaborate array of rich gilding, this large, beautiful porcelain vase was made by Franz Dörfl, an Austrian maker of the early 20th century, and takes for its subject an acclaimed history painting of 1878 by Hans Makart, which hangs in the collection of the Hamburger Kunsthalle.
The large baluster vase is decorated in the round by the central figurative painted scene. To the base, a pair of medallions with female figures lounging in idyllic spring landscapes are housed within gilt roundels, set within richly elaborate floral decorative motifs, alternating with geometric patterns. The vase is painted throughout by a rich dark-blue cobalt ground, in perfect harmony with meticulously applied gilding above. The central scene is framed within gilt bands, that extend into foliate and floral tendrils, with acanthus leaves, and series of rosettes and palmettes, with geometric lattice like work to the neck. The vase is mounted with a similarly elaborate cover, surmounted by a pinecone finial.
In the centre of the image the young Emperor Charles V rides into Antwerp (in 1520) on horseback. With his right hand he points to a group of women in the foreground, two of the women shown are the Klinkosch sisters, daughters of the Viennese silver manufacturer Josef Carl von Klinkosch, (one of whom, Johanna, was a favourite model of Makart), who are depicted semi-nude close to the Emperor. Other figures shown, also taken from Viennese high society, include the German actress Charlotte Wolter (1834-1897) and the German Renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer, to the left, bearded and with long hair, who was present at the moment shown, and from whose notes Makart took the idea for the painting itself.
Makart’s style for the original drew upon the tradition of history painting, and the work of artists such as Rubens and further back Titian, particularly in the treatment of the clothing, fashion, and semi-nudity of the female figures, which the painter here has attempted to replicate. Overall, the treatment is much lighter and more decorative as befits works in porcelain; while the men are drawn in such a way to retain some of the darker tones, the female figures are light, windswept, and expressively and fluently rendered, against the backdrop of the busy street scene, the military parade, and the silhouette of the city of Antwerp in the background.
The foot is marked with a blue stamp and printed, ‘FD, WIEN, AUSTRIA’, with a signature on the stone base with a red shawl (in the painting) for the artist Franz Dörfl.