Meissen two-handled cup and saucer

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Description
TITLE: Meissen two-handled cup with saucer
MAKER: Meissen Manufactory
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: ceramic, porcelain (overall material)
MEASUREMENTS: Cup: H. 2" 5.1cm; Saucer: D. 4½" 11.4 cm
OBJECT NAME: Cup and saucer
PLACE MADE: Meissen, Saxony, Germany
DATE MADE: 1730-1735
SUBJECT: Art
Domestic Furnishing
Industry and Manufacturing
CREDIT LINE: Hans C. Syz Collection
ID NUMBER: 1983.0565.24 ab
COLLECTOR/ DONOR: 627 ab
ACCESSION NUMBER:
(DATA SOURCE: National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center)
MARKS: Crossed swords in underglaze blue “//” incised.
PURCHASED FROM: H. Bachrach, London, England, 1947.
This cup and saucer 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 octagonal-shaped cup and saucer feature onglaze enamel painting in the Kakiemon style. On the saucer a so-called “phoenix” flies above stems of chrysanthemums in flower. The “phoenix’ in Chinese and Japanese mythology is not the same as the bird that renews itself in fire according to Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cultures. The Chinese feng-huang and the Japanese hō-ō bird represent benevolence and wisdom, inhabiting the air and alighting on earth only at times of harmony and stability. Phoenix was a name chosen to represent the mythical bird by western observers and scholars of Chinese and Japanese cultures because of its superficial similarity to the fire bird or phoenix.
Introduced to Japan from China during the Nara period (710-784) the chrysanthemum (kiku) became a popular decorative device on Japanese lacquer wares, textiles, and porcelain, assuming in Japan more symbolic importance than the peony in China. It is the symbol for the imperial family of Japan and chrysanthemum motifs decorate numerous consumer products today.
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.
For a detailed account of the 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; 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. 168-169.
Location
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1730-1735
1730-1735
maker
Meissen Manufactory
place made
Deutschland: Sachsen, Meissen
Physical Description
hard-paste porcelain (overall material)
polychrome enamels and gold (overall color)
Kakiemon (overall style)
Measurements
cup: 2 in; 5.08 cm
saucer: 4 1/2 in; 11.43 cm
overall cup: 2 in x 4 in x 2 7/8 in; 5.08 cm x 10.16 cm x 7.3025 cm
overall saucer: 1 1/8 in x 4 5/8 in x 4 5/8 in; 2.8575 cm x 11.7475 cm x 11.7475 cm
ID Number
1983.0565.24ab
catalog number
1983.0565.24ab
accession number
1983.0565
collector/donor number
627ab
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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