Meissen bowl

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Description
TITLE: Meissen rinsing bowl
MAKER: Meissen Manufactory
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: ceramic, porcelain (overall material)
MEASUREMENTS: D. 6⅜" 16.8cm
OBJECT NAME: Rinsing bowl
PLACE MADE: Meissen, Saxony, Germany
DATE MADE: 1730
SUBJECT: Art
Domestic Furnishing
Industry and Manufacturing
CREDIT LINE: Hans C. Syz Collection
ID NUMBER: 1979.0120.04
COLLECTOR/ DONOR: 550
ACCESSION NUMBER:
(DATA SOURCE: National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center)
MARKS: Crossed swords in underglaze blue; “N=507/W” engraved (Johanneum mark); “B.r.” in overglaze purple (painter’s mark).
PURCHASED FROM: Adolf Beckhardt, The Art Exchange, New York, 1944.
This rinsing bowl 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 rinsing bowl has rocks and chrysanthemums painted on the exterior in onglaze enamel in the Japanese Kakiemon style. Painted inside the center of the bowl is a bird in flight with fine double red lines encircling the interior of the rim. Although highly stylized the rocks and flowers refer to garden traditions in Japan of the Edo period (1615-1868), when rocks of curious shape were valued as part of the garden landscape for both spiritual and aesthetic reasons.
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 Deshima (or Dejima) in the Bay of Nagasaki. The Japanese traded Arita porcelain only with Chinese, Korean, and Dutch merchants through the island of Deshima, 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.
Rinsing bowls also known as slop or waste bowls, functioned as receptacles for tea or coffee dregs, and for rinsing water used to cleanse a tea bowl or coffee cup before refilling. In the eighteenth century tea, coffee, and chocolate was served in the private apartments of aristocratic women, usually in the company of other women, but also with male admirers and intimates present. In affluent middle-class households tea and coffee drinking was often the occasion for an informal family gathering. Coffee houses were exclusively male establishments and operated as gathering places for a variety of purposes in the interests of commerce, politics, culture, and social pleasure.
On the significance of rocks in Chinese gardens see Keswick, M., 1978, The Chinese Garden: History, Art, and Architecture, pp. 169-178; Kuitert, W., 2002, Themes in the History of Japanese Garden Art, p. xiv.
On the Japanese Kakiemon style see Ayers, J., Impey, O., Mallet, J.V.G., 1990, Porcelain for Palaces: the fashion for Japan in Europe 1650-1750; see also Impey, O., Jörg, J. A., Mason, C., 2009, Dragons, Tigers and Bamboo: Japanese Porcelain and its Impact in Europe, the Macdonald Collection.
On the rocks and chrysanthemums pattern see Weber, J., 2013, Meissener Porzellane mit Dekoren nach ostasiatischen Vorbildern: Stiftung Ernst Schneider in Schloss Lustheim, Band II, S. 208-220.
Jefferson Miller II, J., Rückert, R., Syz, H., 1979, Catalogue of the Hans Syz Collection: Meissen Porcelain and Hausmalerei, pp. 174-175.
Location
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1730
1730
maker
Meissen Manufactory
place made
Deutschland: Sachsen, Meissen
Physical Description
hard-paste porcelain (overall material)
polychrome enamels (overall color)
Kakiemon (overall style)
Measurements
overall: 6 5/8 in; 16.8275 cm
overall: 3 1/4 in x 6 11/16 in; 8.255 cm x 16.9545 cm
ID Number
1979.0120.04
catalog number
1979.0120.04
accession number
1979.0120
collector/donor number
550
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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