Oranienburg Palace / 1709

The Meeting of Three Kings  ‒ Porcelain for Soldiers

In July 1709, an unprecedented and sensational encounter took place when three European monarchs met with one another at the same time. At this historic event, Elector Frederick Augustus I of Saxony, known as Augustus the Strong, and King Frederick IV of Denmark paid a visit to King Frederick I in Prussia at Oranienburg Palace. Augustus and Frederick IV hoped to persuade their host to undertake a joint military alliance against their superior foe, King Charles XII of Sweden. The issue at stake was dominance in the Baltic region, in which Denmark and Saxony had suffered bitter defeats against the king of Sweden for many years.

As host, the Prussian king took advantage of the meeting to present his guests with the magnificence of his palaces. The three kings met from 9‒11 July 1709 for political consultations at Oranienburg, an estate Frederick I had expanded into an impressive Baroque palace building for his mother Louise Henriette of Orange-Nassau. In addition to the Orange Hall and the Silver Chamber, the Porcelain Chamber, with its magnificent collection of more than 5,000 blue-and-white East Asian porcelain objects, was the palace’s main showpiece.

In 1717, when Augustus the Strong was looking for luxurious and particularly large Asian porcelain objects for the interior design of his Japanese Palace in Dresden, he recalled the impressive collection he had seen in Oranienburg. The new Prussian king, Frederick William I, whose establishment of a strong army later earned him the nickname “The Soldier King”, exchanged 151 of these East Asian porcelain objects for 600 soldiers. Among them were 18 particularly tall Chinese floor vases from Oranienburg, which owe their present name “dragon vases” to this exchange. Two of these vases can again be seen among the interior décor in Oranienburg Palace’s Porcelain Chamber.

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