Meissen dish

Description
TITLE: Meissen dish
MAKER: Meissen Manufactory
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: ceramic, porcelain (overall material)
MEASUREMENTS: D. 9¼" 23.5cm
OBJECT NAME: Plate
PLACE MADE: Meissen, Saxony, Germany
DATE MADE: 1729-1731
SUBJECT: Art
Domestic Furnishing
Industry and Manufacturing
CREDIT LINE: Hans C. Syz Collection
ID NUMBER: 69.62
COLLECTOR/ DONOR: 677
ACCESSION NUMBER:
(DATA SOURCE: National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center)
MARKS: Crossed swords in overglaze blue; “N=8/W” engraved (Johanneum mark).
PURCHASED FROM: Hans E. Backer, London, England, 1947.
This soup plate is from the Smithsonian’s Hans Syz Collection of Meissen Porcelain. Dr. Syz (1894-1991) began his collection in the early years of World War II, when he purchased eighteenth-century Meissen table wares from the Art Exchange run by the New York dealer Adolf Beckhardt (1889-1962). Dr. Syz, a Swiss immigrant to the United States, collected Meissen porcelain while engaged in a professional career in psychiatry and the research of human behavior. He believed that cultural artifacts have an important role to play in enhancing our awareness and understanding of human creativity and its communication among peoples. His collection grew to represent this conviction.
The invention of Meissen porcelain, declared over three hundred years ago early in 1709, was a collective achievement that represents an early modern precursor to industrial chemistry and materials science. The porcelains we see in our museum collections, made in the small town of Meissen in the German States, were the result of an intense period of empirical research. Generally associated with artistic achievement of a high order, Meissen porcelain was also a technological achievement in the development of inorganic, non-metallic materials.
The design on this dish belongs to the Yellow Lion Service (Gelber Löwe), even though the animal wrapped around a bamboo and looking towards an ancient prunus tree is clearly a tiger. There are many Meissen pieces in existence with this pattern and it was first produced for the Parisian dealer Rodolphe Lemaire. On discovery of Lemaire’s fraudulent activity aided by Count Hoym extant pieces carrying this pattern, of which this dish is one, were confiscated and placed in the Japanese Palace that housed the porcelain collection of Augustus II, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland (1670-1733); much admired at court the design possibly got the name “yellow lion”because of the animal’s association with kingship. The Meissen pattern was based on examples in the Kakiemon style from Arita in Japan.
There are no tigers in Japan, but the animal gained potent symbolic status when adopted from Chinese Buddhist culture in the sixth century C.E. The tiger, associated with courage in Japanese culture is also representative of the wind, and when depicted with bamboo the creature can symbolize the wind rustling through bamboo. In the dense and impenetrable bamboo forest the tiger is perceived as the only animal capable of moving through its thickets, and the image on this dish may have a residual reference to the tiger’s symbolic relationship to the wind and the forest.
Kakiemon is the name given to very white (nigoshida meaning milky-white) finely potted Japanese porcelain made in the Nangawara Valley near the town of Arita in the North-West of the island of Kyushu. The porcelain bears a characteristic style of enamel painting using a palette of translucent colors painted with refined assymetric designs attributed to a family of painters with the name Kakiemon. In the 1650s, when Chinese porcelain was in short supply due to civil unrest following the fall of the Ming Dynasty to the Manchu in 1644, Arita porcelain was at first exported to Europe through the Dutch East India Company’s base on the island of Dejima) in the Bay of Nagasaki. The Japanese traded Arita porcelain only with Chinese, Korean, and Dutch merchants and the Chinese resold Japanese porcelain to the Dutch in Batavia (present day Jakarta), to the English and French at the port of Canton (present day Guangzhou) and Amoy (present day Xiamen). Augustus II, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, obtained Japanese porcelain through his agents operating in Amsterdam who purchased items from Dutch merchants, and from a Dutch dealer in Dresden, Elizabeth Bassetouche.
On the Yellow Lion Service see Pietsch, U., Banz, C., 2010, Triumph of the Blue Swords: Meissen Porcelain for Aristocracy and Bourgoisie 1710-1815, pp. 95-96, p.277. For a detailed account see Weber, J., 2013, Meissener Porzellane mit Dekoren nach ostasiatischen Vorbildern: Stiftung Ernst Schneider in Schloss Lustheim, Band II, S. 265-289.
On the Japanese Kakiemon style and its European imitators see Ayers, J., Impey, O., Mallet, J.V.G., 1990, Porcelain for Palaces: the fashion for Japan in Europe 1650-1750; Impey, O., Jörg, J. A., Mason, C., 2009, Dragons, Tigers and Bamboo: Japanese Porcelain and its Impact in Europe, the Macdonald Collection
See also Takeshi Nagataki, 2003, Classic Japanese Porcelain: Imari and Kakiemon.
On the tiger in East Asian animal symbolism see K. M. Ball (1927 and 2004) Animal Motifs in Asian Art.
On the impact of Chinese porcelain on a global scale see Finlay, R., 2010, The Pilgrim Art: Cultures of Porcelain in World History.
Jefferson Miller II, J., Rückert, R., Syz, H., 1979, Catalogue of the Hans Syz Collection: Meissen Porcelain and Hausmalerei, pp. 126-127.
Location
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1728-1730
1728-1730
maker
Meissen Manufactory
place made
Deutschland: Sachsen, Meissen
Physical Description
blue (overall color)
polychrome (overall surface decoration color name)
ceramic, porcelain, hard-paste (overall material)
kakiemon (joint piece style)
Measurements
overall: 9 1/4 in; 23.495 cm
overall: 1 7/8 in x 9 1/4 in; 4.7625 cm x 23.495 cm
ID Number
CE.69.62
catalog number
69.62
accession number
287702
collector/donor number
677
subject
Manufacturing
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Ceramics and Glass
Domestic Furnishings
Art
The Hans C. Syz Collection
Meissen Porcelain: The Hans Syz Collection
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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