Meissen cup and saucer

<< >>
Description
TITLE: Meissen cup and saucer
MAKER: Meissen Manufactory
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: ceramic, porcelain (overall material)
MEASUREMENTS: Cup: H 1¼" 3.2cm; Saucer: L. 4⅜" 11.1cm
OBJECT NAME: Cup and saucer
PLACE MADE: Meissen, Saxony, Germany
DATE MADE: 1740-1750
SUBJECT: The Hans Syz Collection
Art
Domestic Furnishing
Industry and Manufacturing
CREDIT LINE: Hans C. Syz Collection
ID NUMBER: 1989.0715.18 a,b
COLLECTOR/ DONOR: 1435 a,b
ACCESSION NUMBER:
(DATA SOURCE: National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center)
MARKS: Crossed swords in underglaze blue; “17” impressed on cup.
PURCHASED FROM: A. K. Kuntze, Munich, Germany, 1964.
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 small cup and saucer in quatrefoil shape both have a gold ground introduced at Meissen in 1734. Flowers and insects are painted in onglaze polychrome enamels. There is a moth painted on the lower part of the handle, and a moth or butterfly with closed wings can be found on the interior of the cup. Insects and scattered flowers were sometimes painted to disguise a blemish in the glaze. The areas painted in polychrome enamels were blocked out while the gold was applied, fired, and polished, then the flowers and insects were painted on the exposed glazed areas and the pieces fired once again to fix the enamels to the glaze. Two firings and a second polishing of gold surfaces were favored in order to bring out the metal’s radiance and eradicate irregularities on the surface.
The Meissen manufactory operated under a system of division of labor. Flower painters were paid less than workers who specialized in figures and landscapes, and most painters received pay by the piece rather than a regular wage. The gold ground was applied and polished by workers who specialized in these techniques. In the late eighteenth century flower painters were even busier and consumer taste for floral decoration on domestic “china” continues into our own time, but with the exception of a manufactory like Meissen most floral patterns are now applied by transfers and are not hand-painted directly onto the porcelain.
On the Meissen dinner services see Pietsch, U., Banz, C., 2010, Triumph of the Blue Swords: Meissen Porcelain for Aristocracy and Bourgoisie 1710-1815
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. 376-377.
Location
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1740-1750
1740-1750
maker
Meissen Manufactory
place made
Deutschland: Sachsen, Meissen
Physical Description
hard-paste porcelain (overall material)
polychrome enamel and gold (overall color)
flowers and insects (overall style)
Measurements
cup: 1 1/4 in; 3.175 cm
saucer: 4 3/8 in; 11.1125 cm
overall cup: 1 3/8 in x 3 in x 2 3/16 in; 3.4925 cm x 7.62 cm x 5.55625 cm
overall saucer: 7/8 in x 4 1/4 in x 3 7/8 in; 2.2225 cm x 10.795 cm x 9.8425 cm
ID Number
1989.0715.18ab
catalog number
1989.0715.18ab
accession number
1989.0715
collector/donor number
1435ab
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

Comments

Add a comment about this object