The present set of ten salt-cellars was part of the Royal family silver collection of the House of Wettin. This was specifically made for the King of Saxony and Duke of Warsaw Frederick Augustus III/I. Four of them were furthermore at the beginning of the twentieth century in the collection Goldschmidt-Rothschild.
The salt-cellar is oval and has a light lobbed body and rim. It is raised on a cast, shaped, indented base and is gilt inside. The salt shows a remarkable qualitative work and is impressive through its weight and gilding.
Underneath all the salt-cellars, there are engraved the distinguishing marks of the service: the monogram ‘FA’ below royal crown, the inventory numbers and the scratchweights.
The inventory numbers are as following: 27, 30, 32, 33, 41, 44, 45, 46, 47 and 48. These numbers provide an indication of the scale of the silver service that was ordered by the Wettin and to which these salts belonged.
The engraved scratchweights indicate that the silver is of 12-parts (lots) (as it is “12lt” engraved).
Frederick Augustus III/I, King and Elector of Saxony and Duke of Warsaw (1750-1827)
Frederick Augustus III was the second and only survived child of the Elector Frederick Christian (1722-1763) and his wife duchess Maria Antonia of Bavaria (1724-1780). Friedrich Christian took over power for only three months in 1763.
Frederick Augustus III assumed political power for 59 years – and by this, he had the longest reign of all the members of the House of Wettin. Up to his eighteenth year, his mother and his uncle Prince Franz Xavier of Saxony (1730-1806) set up the regency.
In 1769, Frederick got married to the Countess Palatine Maria Amalia Augusta of Zweibrücken-Birkenfeld (1752-1828), sister of King Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria. The royal pair had four children, though only one daughter survived to adulthood, Maria Augusta of Saxony.
Frederick Augustus was rushed to participate against France during the Napoleonic Wars. However, Napoleon took the defeated Frederick to his side in 1806. Elector Frederick Augustus III became in 1806 King Frederick Augustus I of Saxony by the grace of Emperor Napoleon. In 1807, Napoleon had concluded peace with Frederick William III of Prussia and the tsar Alexander I of Russia in Tilsit. A consequence of this peace treaty was the nomination of Frederick Augustus as Duke of Warsaw. Frederick Augustus had already declined in a controversial decision the hereditary Polish Crown in 1791 and he could not thus decline this time too.
The bond to Napoleon obliged Saxony to dispose troops against the allies Prussians, Russians and Austrians. After the devastating for Napoleon Battle of the Nations in 16/18 October 1813, the King Frederick Augustus I was brought into jail in Berlin.
In 1815, the King of Saxony returned to his homeland. Saxony was administered first by a Russian and then by a Prussian General government, it lost two thirds of its territory and one third of its inhabitants. The next years of the reign of Frederick Augustus until his death remained calm.
The Royal Silver Collection of the House of Wettin and the Monogram ‘FA’
The court of the House of Wettin in Saxony was quite influenced from the French court of Louis XIV in Versailles since the reign of John George III, Elector of Saxony (1647-1691) and the Princess Anna Sophie of Denmark (1647-1717). Their table culture and, in particular, the silver services added a great glamour to the official life of the court.
During the Augustus-era (since 1694) in the royal Saxon-Polish court began an unparalleled display of splendor, influenced particularly by the Versailles court, under the reign of Frederick Augustus I (1670-1733), also called August the Strong. The city of Dresden was still the headquarters of the government even after the acquisition of the polish crown and it was also the primary location for the royal silver collection, which gained in importance. Orders for silver objects were given mostly to gold- and silversmiths in Dresden.
After the Seven Years’ War, some pieces of the Royal silver collection were melted down. However, since 1765 there have been given new orders for the Royal silver collection to two prominent brothers, Carl David and Friedrich Reinhard Schrödel.
In 1774, 1789 and 1876, three inventories of the collection have been realized, providing information on new entries, outflows and aggrandizement of services. In these inventories are mentioned six services of white silver of the eighteenth and nineteenth century and next to them information on the initials of the proprietors. The so-called family silver service ‘von Schrödel’ bears the initials ‘FA’ below a royal crown.
The silver services with the monogram ‘FA’ present a uniform style and it could be said that they belong together. The silver objects from the services of the House of Wettin bear, next to the initials, the inventory numbers and the weight information.
Erich von Goldschmidt-Rothschild (1894-1987)
Erich von Goldschmidt-Rothschild lived in Berlin and as his name indicates, he was a member of two prominent, Jewish, assimilated families in Germany. He was a very cultivated man with a very personal taste and broad knowledge on objects and art works. His collection presented a total character and consisted of paintings, drawings, coloured engravings, furniture, silver, tapestries and other art works. His objects were an organic part of the decoration of his home and of its overall effect. The Goldschmidt-Rothschild collection was enriched through the bequests of the baroness Mathilde von Rothschild (Frankfurt) and the baron Ferdinand von Rothschild (1839-1898) (London).
The collection of Erich von Goldschmidt-Rothschild was put into auction in 1931 in Berlin, in the auction’s house of Ball and Graupe. In this auction were also sold the four of the ten present salts (lot no. 211).
These as well as the rest six of them were sold again many years later, in 1988, from the auction house Habsburg-Feldmann in Geneva (lot no. 155) (s. etiquette underneath in some of the salt cellars).
Maker: Son of the goldsmith Carl Heinrich, Carl David Schrödel, was born around 1712 and became a master maker in Dresden in 1741. He is accounted for being goldsmith and court jeweller. He died in Dresden in 1773.
The widow of Carl David Schrödel and his sons had taken over his workshop after his death and had delivered new parts for the service of the Wettin.
Arnold, Ulli, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden – Grünes Gewölbe (Hrsg.), Dresdner Hofsilber des 18. Jahrhunderts, Berlin: Kulturstiftung der Länder – Bundesrepublik Deutschland – Freistaat Sachsen, 1994.
Kretschmann, Georg, Das Silber der Wettiner: Eine Schatzsuche zwischen Moskau und New York, Berlin: Ch. Links Verlag, 1995.
Rosenberg, Marc, Der Goldschmiedemerkzeichen, Dritte erweiterte und illustrierte Auflage, Bd. II: Deutschland D-M, Frankfurt a. Main: Frankfurter Verlags-Anstalt, 1923.
Schnorr von Carolsfeld, L. und Huth, H. (Einl. und Be.), Die Sammlung Erich von Goldschmidt-Rothschild, Ausst. 16. März 1931; Versteigerung 23-25. März 1931 Berlin: Hermann Ball – Paul Graupe, 1931.