The property of a noble family who acquired the castle and estate formerly belonging to Bernhard Freiherr von Hornstein (1761-1840/8). According to family repute the console originally stood at Bernhard Freiherr von Hornstein's former estate. After the acquisition of the latter estate by a noble family, the console remained in their possession and was passed down by descent up until its sale at Sotheby's Amsterdam, 21st-22nd February 2006, lot 809.
Heinrich Habel, "Neubarock und Rokoko in München. Voraussetzungen, Entstehung, Umfeldl" in "Michael Petztet, ed., "Beiträge zur Heimatforschung" 1991, pp. 53-73.
Gottfried von Böhm, "Ludwig II. König von Bayern. Sein Leben und seine Zeit", 1924. Brigitte Gedon, "Lorenz Gedon: Die Kunst des Schönen", 1994. Georg Himmelheber, "Die Kunst des Deutschen Möbels", vol. III, pp. 183-6.
Afra Schick, "Furniture for the Dream King. Ludwig II and the Munich Court Cabinet-Maker Anton Pössenbacher", 2003, pp. 30-7. Afra Schick, "Der Münchener Hofmöbelfabrikant Anton Pössenbacher. 1873-1902", 2003.
A very rare and important nineteenth century German Louis XV style carved and giltwood and marble console, most probably after a design by Franz Seitz for an identical console by the Munich Hof-Möbel-Fabrik Anton Pössenbacher for King Ludwig II of Bavaria, with a serpentine moulded Tegernsee white veined red marble top, probably dating from the eighteenth century, above a highly elaborate pierced apron with a central plumed cresting flanked by foliate C-shaped scrolls and trelliswork supported on abundantly carved cabriole legs, each headed by a bearded male mask wearing a crown and turban, ornamented below by winged dragons and joined by a scrolling foliate stretcher with a central tassel hung draped receiver flanked by dragons with outstretched wings and raised on paw feet
Munich, date circa 1865-80
Height 82 cm, width 174 cm, depth 63 cm.
This outstanding Rococo Louis XV style console is an almost identical repetition of one that was designed between 1867 and 1869 by Franz Seitz (1817-1883) which was made by the Hof-Möbel-Fabrik Anton Pössenbacher (1842-1920) for the apartment of King Ludwig II of Bavaria (1845-1886) at the Munich Residenz. The Bavarian king's rooms and most of its elaborate Rococo style furniture were destroyed during World War II in an air raid in 1945. Following the king's tragic and mysterious death in 1886 an auction of his property, including his furniture and works of art, was held at Duss in Stuttgart in 1888. Since the catalogue does not describe any piece that could be identified with the present piece, it can be assumed that the original console on which this was modelled was most probably destroyed in 1945. Although most of the pieces from Ludwig's apartments at the Munich Residenz are considered lost, fortunately some have survived; they are now preserved in the Herrenchiemsee King Ludwig II Museum and admirably demonstrate the king's love of Baroque and Rococo extravaganza.
When this work was sold by Sotheby's Amsterdam in 2006, Dr Christoph Graf von Pfeil and Heinrich Piening of the Bayerische Verwaltung der Schlösser, Gärten und Seen, Munich gave their opinion on it, drawing comparisons between it and other pieces of furniture designed by Franz Seitz and made by Anton Pössenbacher for King Ludwig II's residential apartment in the Munich Residenz. Although the present piece dates from circa 1865-80 it, like so many other works that adorned Ludwig's apartment, was largely inspired and made to rival earlier Rococo pieces by the great German eighteenth century designer and architect Joseph Effner (1687-1745). A detailed analysis of the structure of the present piece has revealed that there are certain differences in its construction compared to earlier works by Effner and the Munich eighteenth century Hofkistlerei, yet the quality of its design and craftsmanship is of equal standing. Such is its rarity that Sotheby's proudly announced "To the best of our knowledge, the present lot is the only surviving Prunkmöbel in the style of Joseph Effner from the circle of Ludwig II's court artists, ever to be offered at auction after 1888."
King Ludwig II of Bavaria, often referred to as the Dream King, was the eldest son of King Maximillian II of Bavaria (1811-64) and his wife Queen Marie, Princess of Prussia (1825-1889), who kept themselves very much at a distance from Ludwig and his brother Otto. Ludwig's vivid imagination, his tendency to isolate himself and his pronounced sense of sovereignty were already evident when he was a child and as his mother later remarked "Ludwig enjoyed dressing up … took pleasure in play acting, loved pictures and the like … and liked … making presents of his property, money and other possessions". In 1864 when aged only eighteen, he succeeded the throne after his father's unexpected death. With his handsome looks, Ludwig was popular with the public but he shunned from society and court gatherings, preferring to devote his time and money to the arts. A patron and strong admirer of the composer Richard Wagner (1813-83), he embarked on a number of spectacular building projects to include such magical edifices as Neuschwanstein Castle, a dramatic Romanesque fortress with Byzantine, Romanesque and Gothic interiors; Linderhof Castle, an ornate Rococo style palace and Herrenchiemsee, a replica of Louis XIV's Château de Versailles, although only the central section of Herrenchiemsee was completed.
From an early age he was captivated by King Louis XIV of France and the grandeur of the life and style of absolutist courts. Throughout his life he pursued a realisation of this ideal, following French prototypes as well as the example of his own ancestors, whose legacies he had restored and studied by the best artists of his time. This very well explains the extreme perfection reached by the makers involved in creating this console and its prototype in the effort to rival Joseph Effner and his contemporaries. The remodelling of Lugwig's apartment in the Residenz at Munich is an early proof of the twenty two year old monarch's interest in the era, as perfectly expressed in his statement: that "the magnificent, sublime style prevailing in the age of Louis XIV […] which is to be the only standard by which the refurbishment of my apartments is to be measured", (cited in Afra Schick, "Furniture for the Dream King. Ludwig II and the Munich Court Cabinet-Maker Anton Pössenbacher", p. 33).
The design for the present console was almost certainly by Franz Seitz, a man of many talents who worked as a painter, lithographer, engraver, theatrical costume and set designer. He also designed interiors complete with their furniture and even a sleigh for the Dream King, in addition to being made artistic director of the Court Theatre and director of scenery at the Residenz Theatre, Munich. When it came to Ludwig's residential apartment at the Munich Residenz, Seitz was directed by Ludwig "to devote himself with all dispatch to redecorating my new apartments". In this he supervised the design and completion of the new rooms. The carcass of furnishing items were provided by Anton Pössenbacher, while sculptural elements were carved by specialised workshops and artists. Anton Pössenbacher, cabinetmaker to the Bavarian court in Munich, was head of one of the largest late nineteenth century German makers of luxury furnishings. His pieces, especially those for Ludwig II, represent German historicism at its height. In addition to the furnishings in Ludwig's apartment at the Residenz, Pössenbacher contributed toward many other pieces for the royal apartments at Linderhof, Neuschwanstein and Herrenchiemsee.
As noted, Pössenbacher was only responsible for making the carcasses for the furniture for Ludwig's Residenz apartment, whereas the sculptural elements were carved by specialised workshops and artists. Among them was Philipp Perron (1840-1907) as well as Franz Seitz's protégé - the young Lorenz Gedon (1844-1883). His decoration for the Residenz apartment marked his first employment at the royal court, after which he went from strength to strength, eventually becoming one Ludwig's most influential court designers. While the Dream King checked the designs for virtually all commissions it was his Court Councillor who was in direct contact with the entrusted designers; during the refurnishing of the apartment at the Munich Residenz, this important role was undertaken by Lorenz von Düfflipp (1820-1886).
As befitting a work of such outstanding quality and intricacy of design, this console has an important and intriguing provenance, of which certain aspects are known while others are more circumstantial. Knowledge about the work's history was given by the then owner, who sold the work at Sotheby's Amsterdam 21st-22nd February 2006, lot 809. From the sale catalogue we learn that the vendor descended from a noble family whose ancestor acquired a castle formerly owned by Bernhard Freiherr von Hornstein (1761-1840/8). It was at that castle that this console stood for so many years and having been passed down through the generations it remained within the same family until it was eventually sold in 2006.
For the sake of privacy, the name of the individual who acquired Hornstein's castle and this console was not given in the Sotheby's sale catalogue though it was explained that various family members of the vendor in 2006 were in close contact with important members of the Bavarian court as well as certain court artists during Lugwig II's reign. For instance, they enjoyed an intimate friendship with Richard Wagner and his wife Cosima and thus it was likely that they would also have come in direct contact with King Ludwig himself. They were also in constant contact with Lorenz von Düfflipp, the aforementioned king's Court Councillor, which again is further proof of the family's standing within the circle of the Munich court. In addition to this, for many years the great aunt of the vendor at Sotheby's in 2006, held the position of Oberhofmeisterin or lady-in-waiting within the household of King Ludwig II's mother, Queen Marie of Bavaria.
The above helps explain when and how the console came into their possession. According to family repute, it was acquired direct from Bernhard Freiherr von Hornstein. However other possibilities should also be aired. For instance, since the family had close associations with King Ludwig, as cited above, the console may have been given to them as a gift from the Dream King, who was known to be particularly generous to his subjects. Another possibility is that it was purchased by them independently during the second half of the nineteenth century; alternatively, the family specially commissioned a piece of furniture to be made in the prevailing 'Royal Style'. Despite the various theories as to how the work came into the family's possession one can assert with certainty that the present console is of outstanding quality whose intricate craftsmanship and exuberant Rococo design would have been something that the Dream King himself would have greatly admired.