It’s like welcoming a hippo into the proverbial china shop: Royal porcelain collector par excellence Richard Baron Cohen recently commissioned a Royal Copenhagan service decorated with the big-mouthed mammal for a cool $450,000. He hired American photographer Sarah Louise Galbraith to snap the mighty animals in 101 zoos in 33 countries, and Jørgen Steensen came out of retirement to hand-paint the 141 pieces, each of which identifies the name of the featured animal and zoo on the back. It’s just one part of Baron Cohen’s vast collection, which will be on public display for the first time at the Schloss Charlottenburg in Berlin before traveling to the Liechtenstein Museum in Vienna in November and New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in fall 2009.   

Over the past 12 years, Baron Cohen, the 49-year-old son of a real estate magnate, has amassed a royal porcelain collection second only to that of the Hermitage. In his passion to acquire the best early 19th-century pieces produced for the world’s royalty by the factories of Vienna, Berlin and Sèvres, France, Baron Cohen has pushed auction prices to new heights. The decorative richness of the medium is evident in the 330 or so pieces in the show. The borders of the plates alone offer a visual explosion of pattern, and the minute paintings of landscapes, cameo portraits, flora and fauna are extraordinary in their exactitude.

“Refinement & Elegance”

Through Nov. 4, 2008
Schloss Charlottenburg
Spandauer Damm 10-24
14059 Berlin

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