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.
The service was first used at Christian the 7th’s birthday party in 1803, but only for the most exquisite course: The dessert. For years after, the first Flora Danica service took center stage for many festive occasions.
To protect the fine porcelain, the last official known occasion for its use was for Queen Ingrid’s birthday party in 1990. The collection, today consisting of approx. 1503 pieces, remains one of the most well-preserved porcelain collections of the time and is now mainly used for exhibition.
Since the princess had to leave her birth home, the ladies of the Danish bourgeoisie wanted to give her a piece of Denmark to take with her to her new home: 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 by illustrations of Danish castles and manors.
This time for the Danish princess Anne-Marie and her new husband, King Constantine the 2nd of Greece. T
he couple fell in love at a very young age, and a month after Anne-Marie’s 18th birthday, the couple married in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens. The Flora Danica wedding present was a complete service for 60 people.
800 suggestions were proposed, but one took the majority of votes: A complete Flora Danica dinner service.
The gift from the people consisted of approx. 200 pieces; a mix of the classic Flora Danica adorned with flower motifs and pieces with the couple’s monogram designed by Queen Margrethe the 2nd herself.
And on one of these sunny days, Prince Christian was born. As a tribute to Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary’s first-born son, Royal Copenhagen decided that the future heir to the throne should receive a gift worthy of a king.
Thus, for his baptism, Prince Christian was gifted with 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.
To honour Her Majesty, Royal Copenhagen gifted the Queen with a bespoke Flora Danica Mini Tea Set for Two. The floral decorations on the tea set hides a special message:
The tea pot is decorated with heartseases (latin Viola tricolor) which symbolize innocence, modesty, and decency. One of the cups is decorated with daisies (latin: Bellis), a loving nod to her Majesty’s nickname: Daisy. Daisies symbolize innocence, purity and true love. The last cup is decorated with forget-me-nots (latin: Myosotis), symbolizing hope and remembrance
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.