In many ways, Germany was rococo’s best patron, but it viewed France as a model of style but not of restraint. Skilled German and Italian carvers, modelers, and stuccoists elaborated on models made by French trained designers, often producing bursts of extravagant fancy. Two significant centers dominated German rococo design: Munich, with nearby Augsburg, in the south, under Maximillian II Emanuel von Wittelsbach, Elector of Bavaria; and Berlin, with nearby Potsdam, in the north, under Frederick II (the Great) von Hohenzollern. Dresden also produced some truly rococo furniture and architecture. Augustus the Strong’s primary interest, the porcelain manufactory in Meissen, was generally an exception.
Paris-trained Jean-François Cuvilliés (1695–1768) returned to Munich in 1725, where he first worked under and later succeeded court architect Josef Efner. Among his many projects for the Wittelsbach court was the Amalienburg pavilion at Schloss Nymphenburg, a rococo masterpiece near Munich, which featured the skilled workmanship of Italian stuccoists and carvers. Cuvilliés’s influence expanded through his prints of ornament and furniture designs, and he later worked with the northern designer Johann August Nahl in a collaboration for the Hesse family. Rococo style also spread through the Hoppenhaupts, designers and graphic artists who went from Augsburg to Berlin to work for Frederick the Great. Frederick’s love of pleasure and fantasy culminated in his pleasure palace Sanssouci (“carefree”), a motto for the rococo spirit, where lavish gilt-wood furniture united with flamboyant interior architecture in a complete fantasy environment.