The story of Flora Danica begins in the Age of Enlightenment. In a time where humans strive for rational knowledge of nature and King Frederik the 5th of Denmark commands that all the plants in the entire kingdom are put in a reference work, so that they can be studied and their riches exploited. In 1752 botanist Georg Christian Oeder is appointed the task - and 9 years later the first booklet in the reference work is published. It consists of 60 copper prints so divine that rumours about them travel the world. For the next 10 years (1761-1771), Oeder publishes 10 booklets with 60 copper prints in each booklet. He is then replaced. His replacement is replaced. And within 122 years the collection grows into an impressive collection of 3240 motifs of flowers and plants organized in 51 booklets (plus 3 supplement booklets) titled Flora Danica.
In 1788-89 Russia and Sweden are at war. At the time Russia and Denmark are defence allies – but in the crucial hour Denmark fails to support the Russian army. Thus, the Danish King needs to make amends and come up with a reconciliation gift worthy of the Russian Empress. In 1790 he places an order for a dinner service so magnificent it can dazzle the whole world - and definitely an Empress like Catherine the 2nd, who is a notorious collector of fine porcelain. She dies before it is finished and the porcelain never crosses the boarders of Denmark.
When the King orders the first Flora Danica he wants it to be the most impressive porcelain the World has ever seen. A dinner service that will add lustre to the Danish Kingdom and demonstrate the nation’s artistic and technical skills. In the beginning, only one man is appointed the task: Johann Christoph Bayer who has contributed to the Flora Danica book some years before. From the Royal Danish Porcelain Manufactory in Købmagergade he works on the dinner service for 12 years. During these years he produces the majority of no less than 1802 pieces of Flora Danica porcelain. An incredible deed that costs him both his strength and sight. On the 7th of July 1802 the Crown Prince stops the production. A dinner service of 100 plate settings is completed.
More than 225 years have passed since the first motifs from the old copper prints were painted on porcelain and delivered to the Royal Family. Today the original Flora Danica is one of the most important Danish cultural treasures. Both seen as an ever relevant tribute to the nature of Denmark and the most exquisite example of Danish design and craftsmanship. Today the first Flora Danica is exhibited at Rosenborg Castle, Christiansborg Castle, and Amalienborg Palace.
The story of the first Flora Danica is a story of wars and alliances, of changing eras and a national identity being born.
Flora Danica is unbreakably linked to the Danish Royal Family. Follow the timeline to discover some of the greatest royal events.
It was used for the first time at Christian the 7th’s birthday party in 1803. But only the most exquisite course was served on the dinner service: The dessert. For years after, the first Flora Danica played the starring role on many festive occasions. But each time at least one piece would break.
The last officially known occasion for its usage was the birthday party for Queen Ingrid in 1990. The collection – now consisting of approx. 1530 pieces – is one of the most well preserved and mainly used for exhibition.
Since the princess had to leave her birth home behind, the ladies of the Danish bourgeoisie wanted to give her a piece of Denmark to take with her: A Flora Danica dinner service of no less than 765 pieces.
The ladies carefully selected the flower motifs for each piece so that only the most appealing Danish flowers would adorn the dinner service. And on every dessert plate the classic flower motifs were replaced with paintings of Danish castles and manors.
This time for the Danish Princess Anne-Marie and King Constantine the 2nd of Greece.
The couple fell in love at a very young age - and just a month after Anne-Marie’s 18th birthday they married in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens. Their Flora Danica dinner service was a complete collection for 60 people.
800 different suggestions were proposed – but one took the majority of votes: A complete Flora Danica dinner service.
The gift from the people consists of approx. 200 pieces and is a mix of the classic Flora Danica adorned with flower motifs and pieces with the couples’ monogram – designed by Queen Margrethe the 2nd herself.
And on one of these bright days Prince Christian was born. Royal Copenhagen decided that the heir to the throne should have a gift worthy of a king.
Thus, for his baptism he received a child’s set of Flora Danica – adorned with symbols of the most important events in his life. Among them was a deep plate with a red and green apple – a fruit that matures in October and symbolizes strength and vitality.
A classic both blends in and stands out; in any given context. It belongs to no time, but leaves its mark on all times. It is always relevant, always modern, always beautiful. Immerse in the gallery and witness the immortality of a most beloved classic: Flora Danica.
The Flora Danica pieces are not made to be identical. They are made to be yours. Each piece will reflect the flower painter’s artistic expression based on your choice of motif. When you order a Flora Danica piece you can choose between approx. 3000 flower motifs and 40 different forms – and we are of course at your disposal for advice and suggestions.
Are you looking for more insights – or advice on choosing your motif, please contact us here.