Toilet set in original leather case, ca. 1743–45
Fourteen identified German (Augsburg) goldsmiths and other German artisans; Japanese (Imari) porcelain maker
Medium: Gilt silver, hard-paste porcelain, cut glass, walnut, carved and partially gilt coniferous wood, blind-tooled and partially gilt leather, partially gilt steel and iron, textiles, moiré paper, hog’s bristle
Dimensions: Case: H.16 1/2 in.; with opened lid: H.37 3/4 in.; D.28 in.; Silver-gilt mirror: H.29 1/2 in.; W.23 1/2 in.
This ensemble, acquired in 2005, unites an accomplished level of artistic design and quality of execution with an exalted provenance. Furthermore, it embodies the ultimate expression of princely splendor in precious metalwork. The showpiece was used as part of the daily levée, or ceremonial dressing, of a high-ranking aristocrat in eighteenth-century Europe. The ritual played an essential role in courtly etiquette; therefore, all accessories were required to reflect the owner’s noble status. Customarily, a husband gave such a dazzling set to his bride as a “morning gift” following the wedding night. In an age when marriage was an arranged, formal procedure of crucially political consequence, the toilet set was often assembled on very short notice. Augsburg specialized in the coordination and production of extensive, intricate silver table services and toilet sets involving highly specialized craftsmen. This refined ensemble belonged to the imperial counts Schenk von Stauffenberg at Schloss Jettingen in Swabia. One memorable and courageous member of the family was Claus von Stauffenberg, executed in 1944 after an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler. [x]