Augarten, the Baroque palace and park that was once the imperial porcelain factory, is just a short tram ride from the major tourist sights, and was wonderfully empty on a recent visit.
Surrounding the park are beautiful paths…
…large gardens with flowers, and a giant flak tower.
Make that two flak towers. They are lovely leftovers from WWII, built by the Germans as defense towers and anti-aircraft batteries.
I read that the Germans planned to cover them in marble after they won the war to honor their war dead. That didn’t really work out for them, we know. Certainly something could be done to mask the view?
That’s a little better. The factory contains a small museum with just enough porcelain to look at to not be overwhelmed.
Augarten, of course, manufactured the porcelain for the Spanish Riding School, and select pieces are on display in the restored kiln in the museum.
On the second level the history of Viennese porcelain manufacturing is told through the pieces. This is the classic Wiener Rosen. The three colors used in the flowers have imperial patents.
The fabulously stylish designs of Maria Theresa’s reign…
Including pieces with “puzzles” on the cup.
There’s always the Chinese influence. This cup is so pretty I think I could drink almost anything from it.
A sample color palate from the early 1800s.
And for the “middle class family,” a representative example of the proper table setting. I think I’ll give this a try tonight with my mismatched Williams Sonoma and IKEA pieces and see if the family notices.
Alas, though. I won’t be able to fold our napkins in the “Kaiser Semmel” style. Only two people in the world know how to perfect this secret fold.
The museum store offers numerous pieces to purchase, from the exquisite to the whimsical, as well.
So where did a great deal of this porcelain end up? One of the largest collections is that of the Hapsburgs, in the Selberkammer (Silver Collection) museum at Hofburg Palace. The collection is stunning in its volume; in its time the palace served a staff of around 5,000 people on a daily basis, so plenty of dishes were needed. I will spare you photos of room after room after room of silverware, gold-plated dinnerware, and the cases of porcelain that were used during their reign, and just share a few glimpses. I would, though, be happy to return to the museum with you should you visit, but don’t count on Tony joining us. I think once was enough for him.
A series of gold centerpieces.
A veritable forest of gold candelabras and flower vases.
A fruit bowl in the French style.
Something whose function I’ve forgotten.
“Snack” plates. Imagine the surprise of seeing a naked baby floating in a glass when you finished your snack.
Just as the palaces all seem to have Chinese inspired painted rooms, so too must there be Chinese inspired dinnerware.
And a beer mug. For celebrating the acquisition of new territory, no doubt.
Museums aren’t the only places to find these collections, though. On a recent weekend we came upon a small antique market offering its own fine wares.
An interesting set from Shelly, England. Fine bone china, though, not porcelain.
I can’t believe this wasn’t sold.
The local “Flohmarkt” (Flea Market/Second Hand) store near our house turned up a few beautiful pieces, too. The friend I was shopping with bought eight of these saucers for a whopping €0.50 each.
I’m certainly tempted to bring a few pieces home, but I’m not sure the boys will use them. Maybe they just need a little encouragement?