The Peles castle is one of the most important Romanian museums due to the diversity and value of its collections.
King Carol I succeeded to create both at Sinaia and Bucharest one of the most extensive and comprehensive decorative art collection, unique in Romania. The items were acquired from various workshops during his visits at Paris, London and Vienna Universal Exhibitions as well as from specialized distribution companies.
Alongside the famous painting collections of more than 200 pictures, King Carol I collected remarkable decorative art collections, notably furniture, weapons, tapestries and carpets, glassware and ceramics, from famous European workshops and manufactures of his time.
The ceramics collection (stoneware, faience, porcelain) is one of the largest, containing over 5000 items, and one of the most valuable among King’s collections. The items are products of European and Oriental workshops, fashionable at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, as well as productions of ancient manufactures.
Queen Marie of Romania gradually added to King Carol I’s collection various items in Art Nouveau style decorating her residence, the Pelisor castle.
In addition, during the communist regime, Peles National Museum purchased for its collection excellent vases from private collectors or from antique shops, thus increasing the value of the whole collection.
Although Carol I prefered to decorate his summer residence with European earthenware items, Oriental ceramics represents also a large and valuable segment of his collection. Alongside Chinese vases from 18th-19th centuries, highly decorated and belonging to the so-called green family, blue and white and Brune de Chine, 18th century Celadon vases are to be found too.
The Japanese ceramics, plates and vases were bought from the famous Imari and Satsuma workshops. Most of the Oriental vases have been purchased from Constantinople markets by the Maltese painter Amedeo Preziosi (1816- 1912).
A range of 17th and 18th centuries Persian ceramics and Turkish Iznik vases from the same period, completes the so called Oriental segment of King Carol’s collection.
The European ceramic wares of great stylistic diversity, very important because representing the illustration of the hystorical and ideological Rennaissance values is the very kernel of the collection.
The Spanish earthenware was commissioned in Talavera and Toledo workshops. The Italian ceramics a l’ancienne is imitating and has as inspiration the spectacular Rennaissance creations of Luca della Robbia, or the amphoras with serpent shape handles, pharmacy vases, trilobate bowls and the decorative plates that match the new technical inventions to the decors a raffaelesche, a grotesche, a istoriato, coppa d’amore, bella donna etc.
The collection of Italian faience counts a wide variety of pieces made in renowned 19th century workshops: Ginori, Caffaggiolo, Torelli, Cantagalli, Faenza, Deruta, Savona, Gubbio, Orvieto, Nove, Capodimonte and Urbino.
The most important manufacturers were Alberto Issel from Geneva (1884,1885), Moise della Torre & Co, from Florence (1911), Manifattura di Signa and Terrecotte artistiche from Florence (1912). Alongside the historicist pieces, the Royal collection includes some refined pieces from 16th – 17th centuries.
The German porcelain is characterized by typological variety and artistic quality. Alongside the Meissen figurines – some of them copies of great 18th century artists like Johann Joachim Kändler, famous German sculptor and the most important draftsman of Bötger workshops, one can find Ilmenau, Rosenthal and Nymphenburg tea services, brûlle – parfume vases, decorative plates etc. The most important suppliers were Werkstatt des Architecten R. Bicheweiler from Hamburg, Königliche Hof – Kunst – Anstalt von C.W. Fleischmann from Nürnberg, Artistiche – Fajance und Terracotta Fabrik from Leipzig, Julius Lange, Glass, Porzellan und Majolica – Waaren- Lager from Berlin and Bayerische Kunstgewerbe – Verein from Munich.
The Dutch ceramics is also represented by 18th and 19th century camaïeu vases from Delft workshops.
Fine Austrian porcelain made at Vienna and Bohemia, supplied by Carlo Vani company (1869, 1872), Fabrik von Rococo – Schmuck und Kunst – Gegenständen (1872), Munzen Antiquitäten (1872) and J. Weidmann was also purchased by King Carol I.
The English ceramics came from Wedgewood, Tunstall, Minton, Johnson Bros, Copeland and Doulton – Lambeth manufactures. Most of the English pottery were bought by Carol I from the Londoner Theodor Held. W.P.L.G. Philips and China and Glass Manufactures provided Minton ceramics.
Copenhagen vases and figurines depicting animals, Hungarian Art Nouveau pieces – lavatory items made by Zsolnay – Pecs and Fischer workshops, the large Russian vases made at Moscow and Sankt Petersburg, albeit few as number, give diversity to King Carol’s collection.