This elegant four-seater Berliner with a small over-shaped body is a real 18th-century masterpiece. In spite of the smoothly curving sides, its unusually beautiful body has serene outlines. The wood carving is restrained, with a refined simple composition, plasticity and three-dimensional treatment of details. The cornice, wall joints and window surrounds are decorated with finely modelled and gilded relief festoons, braiding, a band of nacre and antiquated garlands, which emphasize the beauty and symmetry of the carriage body and windows. The pattern is also enlivened by miniature paintings of vases of flowers. The windows and upper half of the doors contain plate glass. Buckendal’s talent as a decorator is strikingly evident in the artistic treatment of this carriage.

The carving on the front and back of the undercarriage and the wheels is executed in a different manner. Richly ornamented, it almost conceals the main constructional lines. The restless design and varying heights of the relief create an effective interplay of light and shade, emphasizing the plastic expressiveness. The carriage’s exterior seems to reflect a transition period in style. Its basically Classic décor still retains echoes of Rococo. The colours of the painting, which plays an important part in the décor, are mainly gentle combinations of silvery pinks and enhance the impression of refined elegance. The subjects were intended to extol the owner, Catherine the Great. They show a subtle lyricism and feeling for the radiant harmony of life. The empress is depicted in the form of the various muses, regarded as patrons of the arts. Evidently, the commission for the carriage included special instructions concerning certain aspects of the décor. The name of the artist who executed the painting is unfortunately as yet unknown.

The décor of the carriage also includes bronze-gilt ornament in the form of urns and a cast fretted border of acanthus leaves attached to the upper section of the body. One of the footboards is edged with finely worked, cast and chased bronze ornament executed in low relief. The bronze buckles on the belts and the handles of the body are beautifully proportioned.

The carriage is equipped with what were then the latest constructional devices. It has vertical and horizontal laminated springs and a pole on either side of the body.

This carriage was built by a distinguished carriage-builder and talented artist Johan Coenrad Buckendal from his own design. His preliminary draft of the design has survived. Contracts and correspondence show that he produced the designs both for his own work and for other carriage-builders.

Catherine the Great used this carriage for important ceremonial occasions. According to the accounts of the contemporaries, it was so beautiful that it stood out among the accompanying Berliners, big, heavy gilded carriages, light coupés and ‘very fanlike’ equipages in state processions.