4 Superb c1920 MZ Astrohlau Handpainted Dessert Plates
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Directory: Antiques: Decorative Art: Ceramics: Eastern Europe: Pre 1920: Item # 633885
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Fine Astrohlau porcelain has been prized throughout Europe since early Victorian times. It reached new heights of beauty when the factory owned by Nowotnę was acquired by Moritz Zdekauer in 1884. His ornate porcelain designs, known for exquisite handpainting and lavish use of overglaze gold, continued to be produced after the distinguished German maker, C.M. Hutschenreuter, took over in Edwardian times (1909).
Astrohlau porcelain marks include those of various nations: Austria, Bohemia (when within the Austrian Empire) and Czechoslovakia (after independence). Because these elegant antique dessert plates are marked "M Z Astrohlau CM-R Czechoslovakia", they have to date after World War I -- but they can't reasonably have been produced much after 1918, since the design is so Edwardian. Later pieces with this hallmark (used for about 20 years) tend to be painted all over in Art Deco motifs that aren't as refined as the earlier work. You also typically find, on later pieces, the initials of other designers, importers, exporters, et al.
As you see, oodles of gold figures on these gorgeous plates -- as scrolled motifs with Art Nouveau curves, as edging for the rose-painted medallions and around both sides of the border. That of course adds significant value. Personally, I'm equally charmed by the unusual color harmony of pinks with buttercup yellow. Of course the white body of the plates shows the translucency of top quality porcelain, and there's a lovely sheen. Bohemian porcelain is made from fine-grained white kaolin clay, feldspar and quartz; this differentiates it from bone china incorporating lighter-weight bone ash, rather than quartz.
The plates measure 7 3/4 inches round and may originally have been accompanied by a larger dessert platter. Incised into the reverses (hard to read) appears to be the number 600 over a pedestal shape. That design number will be the clue to discovering other pieces made in this luscious pattern.
All the plates are in wonderful condition. Naturally, after this long, there's some wear to the gold and stacking wear on the rims of the bases, but I see no evidence of damage or repairs. Provenance is an estate near Cambridge, according to the English dealer from whom we purchased them.
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