Friedrich Wilhelm von Gärtner, born in Koblenz in December 1791, studied architecture at the art academies of Paris and Munich and soon advanced to become one of the leading architects in the kingdom of Bavaria under Ludwig I.
Gärtner, who spent several years in Rome, Naples and on Sicily after completing his studies in 1814, was appointed Professor of Architecture at the Munich Academy in 1819. His classicist style has shaped Munich's appearance like no other. He built the Ludwigskirche. He was also responsible for such buildings as the current Bayerische Staatsbibiliothek, the university building, the Feldherrenhalle and the Siegestor.
In 1822, King Max I Joseph appointed the 31-year old professor of architecture as Nymphenburg's art director – a surprising but appropriate choice. The showpiece vase he designed to celebrate the king's 66th birthday, which was his first creation for Nymphenburg, was very successful for Gärtner. King Ludwig I., who was the son of Max. I. Joseph, then commissioned him in 1833 with the design and production of the so-called ONYX SERVICE. The service, which was only completed after Gärtner died in 1847, uses motifs based on the Königliche Glyptothek. Today, it may be admired at the Munich Residence Museum.
Photos: © Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen, © Kinold, 1992