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Meissen Porcelain

Meissen Porcelain (Staatliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Meissen) is one of the preeminent porcelain factories in Europe and was the first to produce true porcelain outside of Asia. It was established in 1710 under the auspices of King Augustus II “the Strong” of Saxony-Poland (1670–1733), a keen collector of Asian ceramics, particularly Ming porcelain. In pursuing his passion, which he termed his “maladie de porcelaine,” Augustus spent vast sums, amassing some 20,000 pieces of Japanese and Chinese ceramics. These, along with examples of early Meissen, comprise the Porzellansammlung, or porcelain collection, of the Zwinger Palace, in Dresden.

The king was determined, however, to free the European market from its dependence on Asian imports and to give European artisans the freedom to create their own porcelain designs. To this end, he charged the scientist Ehrenfried Walther von Tschirnhaus and aspiring alchemist Johann Friedrich Böttger with the task of using local materials to produce true, hard-paste porcelain (as opposed to the soft-paste variety European ceramists in the Netherlands, Germany, France, Italy and Spain had been producing since the late Renaissance). In 1709, the pair succeeded in doing just that, employing kaolin, or “china clay.” A year later, the Meissen factory was born.

In its first decades, Meissen mostly looked to Asian models, producing wares based on Japanese Kakiemon ceramics and pieces with Chinese-inflected decorations, called chinoiseries. During the 1720s its painters drew inspiration from the works of Watteau, and the scenes of courtly life, fruits and flowers that adorned fashionable textiles and wallpaper. It was in this period that Meissen introduced its famous cobalt-blue crossed swords logo—derived from the arms of the Elector of Saxony as Arch-Marshal of the Holy Roman Empire—to distinguish its products from those of competing factories that were beginning to spring up around Europe.

By the 1730s, Meissen’s modelers and decorators had mastered the style of Asian ceramics, and Augustus encouraged them to develop a new, original aesthetic. The factory’s director, Count Heinrich von Brühl, used Johann Wilhelm Weinmann’s botanical drawings as the basis for a new line of wares with European-style surface decoration. The Blue Onion pattern (Zwiebelmuster), first produced in 1739, melded Asian and European influences, closely following patterns used in Chinese underglaze-blue porcelain, but replacing exotic flora and fruits with Western varieties (likely peaches and pomegranates, not onions) along with peonies and asters.

During the same period, head modeler Joachim Kändler (1706–75) began crafting delicate porcelain figures derived from the Italian commedia dell’arte. Often used as centerpieces on banquet tables and decorated to reflect the latest fashions in courtly dress for men and women, these figurines, they were popular in their day, and are still considered among of Meissen’s most iconic creations. Kändler also created the Swan Service, which, with its complex low-relief surface design and minimal decoration is considered a masterpiece of Baroque ceramics.

The rise of Neoclassicism in the latter half of the 18th century forced Meissen to change artistic direction and begin producing monumental vases, clocks, chandeliers and candelabra. In the 20th century, Meissen added to its 18th-century repertoire decidedly modern designs, including ones in the Art Nouveau style. The 1920s saw the introduction of numerous animal figures, such as the popular sea otter (Fischotter), which graced an East German postage stamp in the 1960s. Starting in 1933, artistic freedom was limited at the factory under the Nazi regime, and after World War II, when the region became part of East Germany, it struggled to reconcile its elite past with the values of the Communist government. In 1969, however, new artistic director Karl Petermann reintroduced the early designs and fostered a new degree of artistic license. Meissen became one of the few companies to prosper in East Germany.

Owned by the State of Saxony since reunification, in 1990, Meissen continues to produce its classic designs together with new ones developed collaboratively with artists from all over the world. In addition, through its artCAMPUS program, the factory has invited distinguished ceramic artists, such as Chris Antemann and Arlene Shechet, to work in its studios in collaboration with its skilled modelers and painters. The resulting works of contemporary sculpture are inspired by Meissen’s rich and complex legacy.

Pair of 19th Century Meissen Porcelain Serpent Vases
By Meissen Porcelain
Located in London, GB
A large and decorative pair of Meissen porcelain vases, of ancient Roman krater form, with handles shaped as entwined serpents (Schlangenvasen)  German, mid-19th century. Why we lik...
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Mid-19th Century German Classical Roman Antique Meissen Porcelain

Materials

Porcelain

Meissen Charger With Raised Gilded Flowers & Leaves and Elaborate Gilded Accents
By Meissen Porcelain
Located in Boston, MA
This is an absolutely gorgeous Meissen gold and white charger or round platter. It has a beautiful raised gold decoration of flowers and leaves with other elaborate gilded accents. I...
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1930s German Rococo Vintage Meissen Porcelain

Materials

Porcelain

Set of Twelve Meissen Dinner Plates with Flying Mythological Dragons and Cranes
By Meissen Porcelain
Located in Boston, MA
I want to offer you this rare set of twelve Meissen dinner plates. In thirty years of specializing in Meissen porcelain, I have only seen this pattern once before in a covered condim...
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1880s German Japonisme Antique Meissen Porcelain

Materials

Porcelain

Set of Twelve Meissen Blue Onion Large Crescent Shaped Dishes
By Meissen Porcelain
Located in Boston, MA
I would like to offer you this rare set of twelve blue onion Meissen large crescent shape dishes. This shaped dish was originally used to put along the side of your dinner plates to ...
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1930s German Other Vintage Meissen Porcelain

Materials

Porcelain

Pair of 19th Century Meissen Porcelain Cupid Centerpieces with Baskets
By Meissen Porcelain
Located in New York, NY
Pair of 19th century Meissen Porcelain compote centerpieces with cupids running after each other around a tree with filigree baskets on top with raised flowers and vines. Hand-painte...
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19th Century German Antique Meissen Porcelain

Materials

Porcelain

Meissen Porcelain Table Bell, Blue with Romantic Scenes, 19th C
By Meissen Porcelain
Located in London, GB
This is a very charming table bell made by Meissen in the 19th Century. The bell has a royal blue ground, slightly marbled with gilt, and two romantic scenes on either side. The bell...
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19th Century German Biedermeier Antique Meissen Porcelain

Materials

Porcelain

Meissen Porcelain Compote Centerpiece
By Meissen Porcelain
Located in Guaynabo, PR
This is a Meissen porcelain centerpiece depicting a group of children holding hands & dancing around a tall palm tree. This serves as a pedestal base to the decorated and reticulated...
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Early 20th Century German Victorian Meissen Porcelain

Materials

Porcelain

  • Meissen Porcelain Compote Centerpiece
  • Meissen Porcelain Compote Centerpiece
  • Meissen Porcelain Compote Centerpiece
  • Meissen Porcelain Compote Centerpiece
H 12.50 in. W 9 in. D 8 in.
19th Century Meissen Floral Painted Reticulated Oval Basket
By Meissen Porcelain
Located in West Palm Beach, FL
19th century Meissen floral painted reticulated oval basket, with gilt rim, pierced surround, hand painted with center rose bouquet, floral sprays, inside and out.       
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Late 19th Century German Antique Meissen Porcelain

Materials

Porcelain

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Meissen Porcelain Sellers

Elegant Findings Antiques
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Alexander's Antiques
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Ferola Vintage
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Moorabool Antiques
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Patrick Moorhead Antiques
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David Sterner Antiques LLC
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Creators Similar to Meissen Porcelain

Johann Joachim Kändler
Christian Gottfried Juechtzer
Ernst August Leuteritz
Johann Carl Schoenheit
Johann Friedrich Eberlein
Michel Victor Acier
Frankenthal Porcelain Factory

Meissen Porcelain furniture for sale on 1stDibs

Meissen porcelain furniture is available for sale on 1stDibs. These distinctive objects are often made of ceramics and are designed with extraordinary care. In our collection of Meissen porcelain furniture, there are many options to choose from, although beige editions of this piece are particularly popular. In-stock we have 420 vintage editions of these items, while there is also 0 modern edition to choose from. Many of the original furniture by Meissen Porcelain were created in Europe during the 19th century in the Rococo style. Many customers also consider furniture by Johann Joachim Kändler, Christian Gottfried Juechtzer and Ernst August Leuteritz if you are looking for additional options. The prices for Meissen porcelain furniture can vary depending on size, time period and other attributes. Price for these items starts at US$43 and tops out at US$257,500, while pieces like these can sell for US$2,680 on average.