This lovely German porcelain plaque was painted by the artist Sontag and is after the work "Porträt einer Dame als Vestalin" by Swiss artist, Angelika Kauffman (1741–1807). This plaque features the image of a young woman dressed as a priestess of Vesta, Roman goddess of the hearth and home. The blue-eyed brunette has a creamy complexion with rosy cheeks and lips and is dressed in white robes with a diaphanous veil draped over her long curly hair. She glances off to the left with one hand raised while grasping the folds of her veil. The piece is signed "Sontag" at the lower right corner.
Vestals were esteemed female members of Roman society and went through a highly selective process before being appointed to a 30 year term of service. The women were required to take a vow of chastity and were charged with the responsibility of tending Rome's eternal flame. According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, the sacred fire could be accessed by any Roman who needed to take fire for their own hearth, making the Vestals in effect "surrogate housekeepers in a religious sense, for all of Rome."
The plaque is housed in an ornate molded gilt wood frame and has a rose quartz colored fabric covered mat. The back of the plaque is hand painted in blue script with the title of the piece "Vestalin" along with the words "after Kaufmann" and number "57" in red. The piece also bears a circular red stamp at the center reading "MADE IN GERMANY" along with a blue paper label inscribed with the numbers "237/6973".
The porcelain plaque is in good condition with no chips, cracks or repairs. That said, it should be noted that as an antique piece the plaque shows signs of age consisting of light scuffs and a scratch to the painted surface. The soft pink fabric covered mat is in very good antique condition with no signs of fading, rips or tears. The wood frame is structurally sound and has no chips or cracks. The plaque has black paper backing which reveals the surface of the verso and the writing/label upon it. The frame is fitted with metal loops and wire to hang the piece on a wall as well as two rubber bumpers at the bottom left and right corners to protect the surface on which it is displayed, all of which are firmly attached to the frame.
The framed dimensions of the piece measure 7.75" by 6.125" and 1" deep. The porcelain plaque itself is 5" by 3.325".
This late 19th century plaque displays beautifully and would be a great addition to a collection of antique miniatures. A very pretty piece!
Antique Signed Hand Painted Framed German Porcelain Plaque "Vestalin after Kaufmann" by Sontag