Lot 295: A Rosenthal parcel-gilt porcelain Iranian Imperial Armorial Ambassadorial part dinner service, Rosenthal, Germany, commissioned 1973
December 14, 2016
Philadelphia, PA, USALive Auction
A Rosenthal parcel-gilt porcelain Iranian Imperial Armorial Ambassadorial part dinner service
Rosenthal, Germany, commissioned 1973
In a custom variant of the "Aria" pattern, the borders in gilt ciselé, and each piece decorated with the Iranian Imperial crowned lion in gold, and marked to the bottom with the overglaze green Rosenthal mark; comprising 29 dinner plates, 55 salad plates, 23 soup bowls, 37 bread plates, 36 crescent-form cheese dishes, 32 tea bowls and 36 saucers, 31 tea cups and 30 saucers, 15 demitasse cups and 28 saucers, four teapots, three coffee pots, four covered sugars, and two creamers. (approx. 365).
Dia: 10 in. (dinner plates)
Condition Report: Descriptions provided in both printed and on-line catalogue formats do not include condition reports. The absence of a condition statement does not imply that the lot is in perfect condition or completely free from wear and tear, imperfections or the effects of aging. Interested bidders are strongly encouraged to request a condition report on any lots upon which they intend to bid, prior to placing a bid. All transactions are governed by Freeman's Conditions of Sale.
The "Aria" pattern by Rosenthal was offered by the company in various iterations from 1934 until it was discontinued in 2005. This particular version, specially commissioned by the Imperial Government for the US Embassy, was ordered in 1973. With delicate incised and gilded borders, all the pieces are also decorated with the Lesser State Arms of Iran, the Lion passant crowned.
After the Iranian Revolution, the Embassy and its property in Washington were subject to a dispute over ownership. The new Khomeini government refused to recognize American property rights in Iran, but insisted that the Iranian Embassy in Washington and its contents belonged to the new leadership. Invoking the 1982 Foreign Missions Act that gives the State Department custody over such foreign-owned embassy properties, the State Department offered the former Imperial properties at an auction in December of 1983. (cf. Perl, Peter, "Iranian Embassy Finery on Auction Block This Weekend," The Washington Post, 7 December, 1983.) The sale at Weschler''s auction house attracted great attention for the Iranian lots, though they tried to downplay the sale because of its politically charged nature (Pearl, ibid.).
The property also caught the eye of Malcolm Forbes, who, long a collector of Imperial property of all kinds, bought portions of the service, which went into use at his Manhattan townhouse off Fifth Avenue.
We are grateful to Petra Werner, MA, Curator, Staatliches Museum Fur Porzellan, Selb, Germany, for her assistance in the Rosenthal archives in compiling this entry.