18th Century Meissen Pair of Porcelain Sugar Bowls, circa 1760 For Sale
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18th Century Meissen Pair of Porcelain Sugar Bowls, circa 1760

About

Pair of porcelain sugar bowls Meissen, circa 1748-1775 Marked with crossed swords and number “92” of the gilder They measure 5.11 in (13 cm) x 5.11 in (13 cm) in diameter State of conservation: slight defects on the knobs. The table services of the Meissen factory are a prime example of how widespread porcelain was in the courts of Europe and at all the tables of the nobility during the second half of the 18th century. The refinement of the forms and decorations and the great technical expertise achieved by the Dresden manufacturers were for a long time unsurpassed even when producing less famous decorations. The two porcelain sugar bowls were shaped by molds and have a globular body; they are shaped and decorated alternately with compartments with raised flowers and smooth compartments on which a polychrome ornament with western flowers is outlined. The rim, decorated with a gold lattice motif, has a groove to hold the spoon. The dome-shaped lids bear the same ornamental motif and are topped by a knob shaped like a flower bud with thin petals and threadlike stamens. The two sugar bowls are safely attributable to the Saxon manufacture of Meissen. The mold of the two works is consistent with similar tableware in terms of size and decorative methods such as, for example, the service cups or the coffee pots with “Watteaumalerei” decoration, dating from about 1748 to about 1775. Please see, in particular, the small tureen with applied handles coming from the service of the Court of Saxony known as the service with “Watteau green figures” (U. Pietch The Dresden Porcelain Collection: China, Japan, Meissen, 2006 pp. 130-131.) in which the similarity of the form, the flowers in relief, but, above all, the minor floral bunches make us all the more sure in making this attribution. In the Otto Walcha's publication on Meissen porcelain, in particular, please compare the minor decorations with small flowers on the knob of a walking stick, which is very similar to that used in the decoration of the sugar bowls. (Otto Walcha, Meißner Porzellan von den Anfängen bis zur Gegenwart, Dresden 1973, nn. 167-169).

Details

  • Wear
    Minor losses.
  • Dimensions
    H 5.12 in. x Dm 5.12 in.H 13 cm x Dm 13 cm
  • Diameter
    5.12 in. (13 cm)
  • Seller Location
    Milano, IT
  • Sold As
    Set of 2
  • Reference Number
    LU4352216028322
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About Meissen Porcelain (Manufacturer)

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.

About the Seller

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Associations: International Confederation of Art and Antique Dealers' Associations
1stdibs seller since 2018
Located in Milano, IT
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