Meissen teapot and cover

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Description
TITLE: Meissen teapot and cover
MAKER: Meissen Manufactory
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: ceramic, porcelain (overall material)
MEASUREMENTS: H. 4⅛" 10.5cm
OBJECT NAME: Teapot
PLACE MADE: Meissen, Saxony, Germany
DATE MADE: 1745-1755
SUBJECT:
Art
Domestic Furnishing
Industry and Manufacturing
CREDIT LINE: Hans C. Syz Collection
ID NUMBER: 1989.0715.03 a,b
COLLECTOR/ DONOR: 307
ACCESSION NUMBER:
(DATA SOURCE: National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center)
MARKS: Crossed swords in underglaze blue.
PURCHASED FROM: Adolf Beckhardt, The Art Exchange, New York, 1943.
This teapot 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 teapot has overglaze enamel painted scenes based on the French fêtes champêtre in which a young couple dances while a man plays a woodwind instrument in one scene, and in the other a couple dances to the hurdy-gurdy. The shape of the teapot is one commonly used at Meissen in the 1740s and 1750s. The subject of the dancing couple is based on a print by Nicolas de Larmessin IV (1684-1755) after the painting by Antoine Watteau, The Marriage Contract.
Before Jean Antoine Watteau (1684-1721) developed the subject of the fêtes galantes, reveries based on outdoor entertainments in private and public pleasure parks that represent youthful elite society removed from the conventions of court protocol, he painted a series of works set in the rural village. Rural life, imagined by urban elite society as an idyll of simple pleasures in pastoral surroundings, was already the subject of literature and theatrical performance. Watteau did not attempt to represent the reality of life in the country village and in the fêtes champêtre, he anticipated the search for pleasure in the lush parklands of the Paris environs, the fêtes galantes.
In the early 1740s the manufactory began to acquire a collection of copperplate engravings on which the Meissen painters based their “Watteauszenen” (Watteau scenes), and they became so much in demand that eleven painters were appointed to specialize in work on this theme.
The Meissen manufactory operated under a system of division of labor. Enamel painters specializing in landscapes and subjects with figures were paid more than those who painted flowers, fruits and underglaze blue patterns. Most painters received pay by the piece rather than a regular wage. Ornamental gold painting and polishing was the work of other specialists in the manufactory.
On Antoine Watteau see Thomas Crow, 1985, Painters and Public Life in Eighteenth-Century Paris, chapter II, ‘Fêtes Galantes and Fêtes Publiques’, pp. 55-75. See also Sheriff, M. D., (ed.) 2006, Antoine Watteau: Perspectives on the Artist and the Culture of His Time.
On the painting division at Meissen see Rückert, R., 1990, Biographische Daten der Meissener Manufakturisten des 18. Jahrhunderts, pp. 134-136.
Hans Syz, J. Jefferson Miller II, Rainer Rückert, 1979, Catalogue of the Hans Syz Collection: Meissen Porcelain and Hausmalerei, pp. 346-347.
Location
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1745-1755
1745-1755
maker
Meissen Manufactory
place made
Deutschland: Sachsen, Meissen
Physical Description
hard-paste porcelain (overall material)
polychrome enamels and gold (overall color)
scenes in the style of Watteau (overall style)
Measurements
overall: 4 1/8 in; 10.4775 cm
overall: 4 1/4 in x 6 15/16 in x 3 13/16 in; 10.795 cm x 17.62125 cm x 9.68375 cm
ID Number
1989.0715.03ab
catalog number
1989.0715.03ab
accession number
1989.0715
collector/donor number
307
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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