Meissen miniature vase

Description
TITLE: Meissen miniature vase
MAKER: Meissen Manufactory
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: ceramic, porcelain (overall material)
MEASUREMENTS: H. 3" 7.6cm
OBJECT NAME: Miniature vase
PLACE MADE: Meissen, Saxony, Germany
DATE MADE: 1725
SUBJECT: Art
Domestic Furnishing
Industry and Manufacturing
CREDIT LINE: Hans C. Syz Collection
ID NUMBER: 1983.0565.27
COLLECTOR/ DONOR: 195
ACCESSION NUMBER:
(DATA SOURCE: National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center)
MARKS: “N=96/W” engraved (Johanneum mark).
PURCHASED FROM: Adolf Beckhardt, The Art Exchange, New York, 1942.
This miniature vase 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 little vase has a gourd-like shape painted with stylized flowers in the Japanese Kakiemon style. A miniature vase like this was most likely seen in an elaborate display for a dessert at court banquets, or in a porcelain room as part of a schematic display, and may have been one of a series. The vase has a Johanneum mark and the Dresden inventory of 1779 lists two miniature vases with the numbers 95 and 97, but 96 is missing; the number 96 and a description of small “Aufsatz Bouteillen” (display bottles) delivered from the manufactory in 1725 appears in the fragments of inventories compiled between 1721 and 1727, and published in Ingelore Menzhausen’s Böttgersteinzeug Böttgerporzellan (1969 S. 52-53). The little vase represents an early Meissen pattern painted in enamels and based on Far Eastern prototypes.
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.
On the 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; Takeshi Nagataki, 2003, Classic Japanese Porcelain: Imari and Kakiemon.
Jefferson Miller II, J., Rückert, R., Syz, H., 1979, Catalogue of the Hans Syz Collection: Meissen Porcelain and Hausmalerei, pp. 170-171.
Location
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1725-1735
1725-1735
maker
Meissen Manufactory
place made
Deutschland: Sachsen, Meissen
Physical Description
hard-paste porcelain (overall material)
polychrome enamels (overall color)
Kakiemon (overall style)
Measurements
overall: 3 in; 7.62 cm
overall: 3 in x 1 3/4 in; 7.62 cm x 4.445 cm
ID Number
1983.0565.27
accession number
1983.0565
catalog number
1983.0565.27
collector/donor number
195
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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