Where is it from?

Association locations map

Similar items over time

Cabinet Plate - German Lady, Blue Cap with Jewelled Net, Royal Vienna Style Porcelain, after Wilhelm Menzler, circa 1880 Object Reg. No: HT 22587

Hand-painted Royal Vienna-style porcelain cabinet plate (one of three), depicting a woman richly clad in mid sixteenth century Germanic clothing, possbily after an orignial painting by Wilhelm Menzler (1846-1926), and manufactured circa 1880.

In 1718, the Dutch ceramist Claudius Innocentius Du Paquier, founded the Royal Vienna Porcelain Factory, drawing on the expertise of workmen from the other major European centre of porcelain production at Meissen, Germany, which itself had only been established eight years earlier. For almost a quarter of a century, Du Paquier's manufactory was the only other rival to Meissen producing genuine hard-paste porcelain before financial difficulties forced him to sell the business to the Austrian State in 1744. It continued under a series of directors until finally closing in 1865.

However, the term 'Royal Vienna' is still applied to porcelain made after this date, and by a range of manufacturers who continued to produce decorative porcelain vases, plates and plaques in a similar style. Painted porcelain 'cabinet plates' gained popularity in the second half of the nineteenth century, often being decorated with portraits copied from well-known paintings by a relatively small group of artists.

Although the original painting on which this plate's portrait remains unidentified, the related two Royal Vienna-style plates in the Twycross Collection depicting women in sixteenth century Renaissance dress are based on paintings by the German artist, Wilhelm Menzler. Several similar examples of such plates are known, in some cases being signed 'W. Menzler', although the signature refers to him as the artist of the painting on which the plate design is based, and not the actual porcelain artist.

It is likely that the subject of this portrait is Philippine Welser (1527-1580), the wife of Ferdinand II, Archduke of Austria. Menzler exhibited two paintings at the 1879 Sydney International Exhibition, one a portrait of Philippine Welser, and the other a portrait of Agnes Bernauer, the so-called 'Beauty of Ausburg' (1410-1435), mistress of the later Albert III, Duke of Bavaria. His portrait of Bernauer was awarded a first prize and, both paintings were later reported in the Illustrated Sydney News as having been acquired by the New South Wales Academy of Art, the forerunner to the present Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Many of Menzler's paintings date to the late 1870s, and Royal Vienna-style cabinet plates carrying his designs would have been included among the exhibits at the 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition. Three Viennese firms were noted by Melbourne's Argus newspaper for their enamel and painted porcelain exhibits, Radler and Pilz, Charles Fab and Josef Zasche. It is possible these plates were purchased from one of them.
One of three wall plates, each painted with a portrait of a woman.
Woman wearing a cap above hair in a jewelled net, a high ruff, and a charcoal grey cloak with a fur collar, all on light blue background.
Acquisition Information:
Cultural Gifts Donation from Dr Will Twycross, 2009
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
Discipline: History
Dimensions: 310 mm (Diameter)

More information

Tagged with: exhibitions melbourne international 1880-1881, royal exhibition building, ceramics, decorative arts
Themes this item is part of: Public Life & Institutions Collection, John Twycross Melbourne International Exhibitions Collection
Secondary Classification: International Exhibitions
Tertiary Classification: exhibition heritage
Inscriptions: Glazed back/Painted on underside in brown: 55
Moulded on underside: T A intersecting / 10. (Star *)
Designer: Wilhelm Menzler, Germany, circa 1880
Place & Date Made: Austria, circa 1880
Place & Date Exhibited: Royal Exhibition Building (REB), Carlton, Victoria, Australia, 1880-1881
Collector: Mr John Twycross, Elsternwick, Victoria, Australia, 1881
References: Sydney Morning Herald, Monday 10 November 1879, p.6
'The Closing Ceremony', Sydney Morning Herald, Thursday, 22 April 1880, p.9
'Austria', The Argus, Exhibition Supplement, Thursday, 9 December 1880, p.53
Illustrated Sydney News, Saturday, 20 November 1880, p.10
Illustrated Sydney News, Saturday, 20 June 1891, p.11


Guido Smoglian Posted on 30 Apr 2014 10:46 PM
I have recently purchased a painted porcelain plaque in ornate carved timber frame after Menzler .I was wondering if you would like me to send you an image of it.As I am Hoping that I may be able to identify the lady.And it may be of interest for you to compare with your collection.

Add your comment

  • Museum Victoria does not provide valuations, for more information please visit the valuation infosheet
  • Please note that Museum Victoria staff will not normally respond to comments posted on our website.

Similar items

Yes No