Meissen tea caddy

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Description
TITLE: Meissen tea caddy
MAKER: Meissen Manufactory
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: ceramic, porcelain (overall material)
MEASUREMENTS: H. 4" 10.2cm
OBJECT NAME: Tea caddy
PLACE MADE: Meissen, Saxony, Germany
DATE MADE: 1730
SUBJECT: Art
Domestic Furnishing
Industry and Manufacturing
CREDIT LINE: Hans C. Syz Collection
ID NUMBER: 1984.1140.22 ab
COLLECTOR/ DONOR: 626 ab
ACCESSION NUMBER:
(DATA SOURCE: National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center)
MARKS: Crossed swords and “K” in blue on unglazed base.
PURCHASED FROM: H. Bachrach, London, England, 1947.
This tea caddy 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.
This tea caddy of hexagonal baluster shape with a flat unglazed base refers to the Japanese Imari style in onglaze enamel decoration, although the shape is the same as early Meissen tea caddies made in Böttger red stoneware and porcelain fifteen years before. The caddy has a rose colored ground with vertical gold lines dividing the six sides. The cover is a metal replacement.
Japanese Imari wares came from kilns near the town of Arita in the north-western region of Kyushu, Japan’s southernmost island and were exported to Europe by Dutch agents based on the island of Deshima (or Dejima) through the port of Imari. Decorated in the Aka-e-machi, the enameling center in Arita, Imari wares are generally distinguished from those made in the Kakiemon style by the darker palette of enamel colors and densely patterned surfaces, some of which are clearly derived from Japanese and South-East Asian textiles and known in Japan as brocade ware (nishiki-de), but there are considerable variations within this broad outline. Unlike the Kakiemon style a high proportion of Japanese Imari wares combined underglaze blue painting with overglaze enamel colors. This design of a vase filled with mixed flowers was used frequently by the Arita painters for export to the European market.
Much admired by the European ruling elite, among them Elector of Saxony and King of Poland Augustus (1670-1733), the Imari style gained wider popularity on the European market later in the eighteenth century, represented most notably in the imitations produced by the English Worcester and Derby porcelain manufactories, and Royal Crown Derby continues to produce a derivative pattern called Traditional Imari today.
Tea, coffee, chocolate, and sugar were luxury products for early eighteenth-century consumers, and the equipage for these hot beverages, made in silver and the new ceramic materials like Meissen’s red stoneware and porcelain, was affordable only to the elite of European society. As tea became more affordable cheaper tea caddies were made in wood and tin.
For a detailed account of Imari wares see Ayers, J., Impey, O., Mallet, J.V.G., 1990, Porcelain for Palaces: the fashion for Japan in Europe 1650-1750. See also: Rotondo-McCord, L., 1997, Imari: Japanese Porcelain for European Palaces: The Freda and Ralph Lupin Collection; Goro Shimura, 2008, The Story of Imari: the Symbols and Mysteries of antique Japanese Porcelain.
On fashionable tea and coffee drinking see Bowman, P.B., 1995, In Praise of Hot Liquors: The Study of Chocolate, Coffee and Tea-drinking 1600-1850
Jefferson Miller II, J., Rückert, R., Syz, H., 1979, Catalogue of the Hans Syz Collection: Meissen Porcelain and Hausmalerei: Meissen Porcelain and Hausmalerei, pp. 192-193.
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)
underglaze blue, polychrome enamels, gold (overall color)
Imari (overall style)
Measurements
overall: 4 in; 10.16 cm
overall: 4 in x 3 1/8 in; 10.16 cm x 7.9375 cm
ID Number
1984.1140.22ab
collector/donor number
626ab
catalog number
1984.1140.22ab
accession number
1984.1140
Credit Line
Dr. Hans Syz
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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