1 of 11 images

Pair of Meissen Schneeballen and Intricately Ormolu-Mounted Potpourri Vases


A very unusual and rare pair of Meissen Schneeballen and intricately ormolu mounted potpourri vases with covers. The vases are supported by finely detailed dragons with accompanying face mask handles. There are porcelain birds decorating the vase with delicate ormolu vines throughout. Schneeballen refers to the dense pattern of porcelain flowers covering the vase. There are under glazed cobalt blue cross swords markings of Meissen on the underside of both bowls.


  • Condition
    Excellent. Very minor chips to the flower petals..
  • Dimensions

    H 10 in. x Dm 7 in.

    H 25.4 cm x Dm 17.78 cm

  • Diameter
    7 in. (17.78 cm)
  • Seller location
    New York, NY
  • Sold As
    Set of 2
  • Reference number

Shipping, Returns & Payment

  • Online Payment Methods
    1stdibs accepts the following payment methods
  • Item Invoice
    Generate an invoice that you can customize and print.

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

Top Seller
1stdibs seller since 2011
Typical response time: 5 hrs
Located in New York, NY
You may also contact the seller by phoneCall seller through 1stdibs
More From This Seller
Monumental Pair of Meissen Porcelain Snowball V...
Meissen Porcelain
German Vases
This rare and monumental antique pair of Meissen Porcelain 22 inch vases is crafted in the illustrious Schneeballen, or Snowball, pattern. First modeled by the famed Johann Joachim K...
Pair of Antique Chinese Export Porcelain and Or...
Henry Dasson
French Porcelain
Bronze, Porcelain
A very fine pair of antique Chinese porcelain and Louis XV-Louis XVI transitional, French doré bronze mounted covered potpourri/urns. These beautiful and quite decorative covered vas...
Pair of Meissen Porcelain Figures of Cockatoos ...
Meissen Porcelain
German Porcelain
This fine pair of Meissen Porcelain figures of cockatoos / birds with orange feathers flared up, are perched on a tree with green leaves and small fine flowers. The cockatoos have ve...
Pair of Meissen Porcelain Chinoiserie Figural S...
Meissen Porcelain
German Porcelain
A fine pair of Meissen porcelain chinoiserie figural sweetmeat dishes, after a model by J.J. Kandler Each with a Malabar chinoiserie figure seated on a sea-shell and holding a bowl ...
You May Also Like
Pair of 19th Century German Porcelain Schneebal...
Meissen Porcelain
German Vases
These exceptionally detailed vases are known as 'Schneeballen' vases, after the style of porcelain decoration pioneered by the celebrated Meissen artist Johann Joachim Kaendler in th...
Meissen Pair of Kaendler Potpourri Lidded Vases...
Johann Joachim Kändler
German Porcelain
Meissen gorgeous quite rare items: a pair of potpourri lidded vases with abundant sculptured decorations as well as with nicest Watteau paintings. Measures: Total height: 35.0 cm...
Pair of Meissen Porcelain Vases with Snake Handles
Meissen Porcelain
French Vases
A highly-decorative pair of yellow porcelain vases, hand-painted with detailed central romantic scene, and having snake-form handles (Meissen, 19th century).
Pair of Large Antique Meissen Style Porcelain F...
Meissen Porcelain
German Porcelain
These charming antique Meissen style Porcelain figures are rendered in the elegant Rococo style, depicting a courting couple dressed in 18th century clothes and holding flowers; each...
Meissen Two Tall Potpourri Vases Vintage Abunda...
Meissen Porcelain
German Porcelain
Meissen very interesting rare items: A pair of lidded potpourri vases, of rarest manufacturing quality (painted pictures of watteau style and abundant sculptured decorations: Childr...
Pair of Meissen Figurines with Candleholders, B...
Meissen Porcelain
German Candlesticks
Porcelain, Paint
This delightful hand-painted pair of porcelain figurines depict a boy and a girl playing musical instruments, him with a dog, her with a lamb and each with a candle holder. With del...
Meissen Pair of Tall Candlesticks Each of Them...
Meissen Porcelain
German Porcelain
Each of the candlesticks has FIVE grommets / there are FIVE ARMS existing, being abundantly decorated with sculptured flower's blossoms and fruits. - The stalk consists of SCULPTUR...
Pair of Signed Meissen Lemon Yellow Hand-Painte...
Meissen Porcelain
German Vases
This lovely pair of signed Meissen vases are beautifully painted on both front and back with Dutch floral bouquets. The crisp white background with vibrant yellow, provides contrast ...

Why Shop on 1stdibs?

Learn More

Only Vetted, Professional Sellers

Buyer Protection Guaranteed

Fully Insured Global Deliveries