Peter Marino’s Newest Exhibition: A Porcelain Wonder

For Peter Marino, this latest museum project is about far more than designing a showcase for the finely painted and intricately modeled porcelain vessels and figurines.

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The exterior of the museum.
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Architect and interior designer Peter Marino.

Despite the current state of work-from-home life, celebrated architect and interior designer Peter Marino shows no signs of slowing down. A case in point is a major new Musée Condé exhibition he has designed on prized 18th-century Meissen and Chantilly porcelain. The very setting for “The Manufactory of Extravagance of Meissen and Chantilly,” which opened this week and runs through January 3 of next year, could not be more apt. The museum is housed within the palatial chateau of Louis-Henri de Bourbon, Prince of Condé, who established the making of Chantilly porcelain and served as prime minister to Louis XV.

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A display of blue-and-white vases.

It’s a window into the rivalry of the Prince of Condé and Augustus II the Strong, who reigned as Elector of Saxony and King of Poland. The primary focus of their ongoing competition was not territory or natural resources, but their considerable porcelain collections and the establishment of those related enterprises.

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Collecting choice porcelain, which was literally deemed white gold, consumed those two royals,” Peter Marino, whose own vast porcelain collection includes Meissen and Chantilly rarities, points out.

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Amid gilded interiors, a red tent can be glimpsed. 

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While both Condé and Augustus battled for supremacy when it came to setting new stylistic standards, porcelain from China and Japan, which had long been coveted in Europe, is also on view. Visitors to the show can expect choice pieces from the Louvre, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, and the Zwinger Royal Porcelain Collection at Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, as well as from a series of private collections. For the exhibition, Peter Marino designed a bevvy of gilded bronze pedestals that complement the lavish interiors filled with finely carved and gilded boiserie. In some cases, the porcelain is fittingly displayed atop ornate marquetry consoles. In the Gallery of Battles, which is lined with 18th-century paintings of war scenes, Peter Marino injected a theatrical flourish by designing stylish red silk tents in which to showcase brilliantly modelled birds.

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Rollier d’Europe, Meissen porcelain with polychrome decorations, Meissen Manufactory based on a design by Johann Joachim Kändler, ca. 1740 Paris, Musée des Arts Décoratifs.
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Macaque with her baby, Meissen Manufactory based on a design by J.-G. Kirchner, 1733.
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Monkey-shaped teapot, Meissen Manufactory based on a design probably by Johann Joachim Kändler, ca.1735-1740 Dresden, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Porzellansammlung.

What, however, is the appeal of such rarefied specialities, when streamlined design and a monochromatic palette are often the norms for Peter Marino? “Technical artistry, from exquisite modelling to a palette that ranged from the subtle to the bold,” the designer replies. “For example, Kandler’s life-sized birds remain remarkable, close to three centuries [after their initial creation].” Meissen creations such as these have long piqued Peter Marino’s interest, spurring him to cultivate a dedicated passion. His rare porcelain and ceramics collection was the subject of Théodore Deck: The Peter Marino Collection, published last year. Next month, Adrien Dalpayrat: The Peter Marino Collection will hit bookstores.

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Clock with two pugs, Meissen porcelain with polychrome decorations mounted in wrought and gilded bronze, Meissen Manufactory, ca. 1755, Private collection.
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Heron, Meissen Manufactory based on a design by Johann Joachim Kändler, March 1732. Dresden, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Porzellansammlung. 

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