From the Venetian Fair series
After designs by G.F.P Riedel
Underglaze ducal coronet with CC monogram
Circa 1760-70
16 x 14 x 7 cm
Paper label for ‘Sammlung Dr. S. Ducret’

This market stall comes from one of the most surprising of all 18th century courtly porcelain creations, the Venetian Market of Ludwigsburg.

The Venetian Market at Schloss Ludwigsburg

In December 1766 Carl Eugen, Duke of Württemberg (1728-1793), set off on his third trip to Venice with an entourage of 125 people. He was accompanied by his mistresses, the singer Caterina Bonafini and the dancer Luisa Toscani, together with their mothers. They were joined by selected court servants, including the music director Niccolò Jomelli with seventeen musicians through to the cook and the coffee server. Significantly, the events during this pleasure trip were not recorded in writing. However, a meticulously kept expense book, which is kept in the Stuttgart Main State Archives, shows that the ruler of Württemberg turned his back on his country for half a year. The expenses for the trip came to a staggering 230,910 gulden. According to the value of the South German Gulden when it departed from the Leipzig standard in 1733, this would have equated in value to 157.63kg of ‘fine gold’. The rank of the Duke of Württemberg demanded the lifestyle to which he was accustomed in Stuttgart. Württemberg already had a reputation for extravagance and according to his friend, the Venetian Giacomo Casanova, the court of Carl Eugen was “the most splendid in all of Europe”. The duke spent huge amounts on costumes for himself and his entourage.

On his return to Württemberg, Carl Eugen established the Venetian Fair or Carnival, in the market square in Ludwigsburg on 19 January 1768. It lasted for 14 days and became an annual event. The duke and his court appearing in the costumes acquired in Venice. It continued until the death of Carl Eugen in 1793, it was revived in the 20th century and is still held every two years, now in September. It seems that plans for a version in porcelain of the Venetian Carnival already existed as drawings attributed Johann Gottfried Trothe, the first director of the factory, are dated to 1758/59 (Flach 1997 colour plate 8, p. 433).

Bayreuther Zeitung of Ludwigsburg reported in 1769 that: ‘In addition to other organised winter entertainments, the fair that was set up here a year ago also began last 17 January. Comfortable and spacious boutiques have been erected on the large market square for the many foreign and local traders who have come here,… the ducal court attends the market every day at noon from 11 to 1 o’clock, and in the evening from 5 to 7 o’clock, …, but on sale days,  a masque is held there, and everyone is allowed to appear there at the appointed time, the main corridor of 350 feet in length, where the most distinguished merchants are located, is covered with cloth at a considerable height and arranged in such a way that it can be illuminated at night.’

Water colour attributed to Johann Gottfried Trothe, 1758/59, Graphische Sammlung of The Staatsgalerie Stuttgart (inventory no. C 6940)

The two largest groups of figures and stalls of the Venetian Market are those that belonged to the Dukes, and later Kings, of Württemberg now held at Schloss Ludwigsburg, which includes three stalls, and the even larger set that was sold from the collections of the Markgraf and Grand Duke of Baden by Sotheby’s in 1995, which includes eight stalls. Neither set includes a booth for the ‘Marchand d’Estampes’.

Flaking to green enamel, chip to the edge of one upright, no restoration

Provenance: Estate of Dr. Siegfried Ducret, Zurich.


Ducret 1971
Siegfried Ducret, Porzellan des 18 Jahrhunderts, (Zurich, 1971), Ill. Pl. 46

Flach 1997
Hans Dieter Flach, Ludwigsburger Porzellan: Fayence, Steingut, Kacheln, Fliesen, (1997) p. 591, no. 734


Flach 1997
Hans Dieter Flach, Ludwigsburger Porzellan: Fayence, Steingut, Kacheln, Fliesen, (1997)

Hesse 2008
Sabine Hesse, Herzog Carl Eugens Venezianische Messe in Ludwigsburg und Stuttgart, (Landesmuseum Württemberg, 2008)

Sale Catalogue: Die Sammlung der Markgrafen und Grossherzöge von Baden, Sotheby’s, 6 & 7 October 1995