Meissen tea bowl and saucer

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Description
TITLE: Meissen tea bowl and saucer
MAKER: Meissen Manufactory
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: ceramic, porcelain (overall material)
MEASUREMENTS: Tea bowl: H. 1⅝" 4.2cm; Saucer: D. 4⅞" 12.4cm
OBJECT NAME: Tea bowl and saucer
PLACE MADE: Meissen, Saxony, Germany
DATE MADE: 1725-1730
SUBJECT: Art
Domestic Furnishing
Industry and Manufacturing
CREDIT LINE: Hans C. Syz Collection
ID NUMBER: 1981.0702.17 ab
COLLECTOR/ DONOR: 694 ab
ACCESSION NUMBER:
(DATA SOURCE: National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center)
MARKS: Crossed swords in underglaze blue; “N=243/W” engraved (Johanneum mark); two dots impressed, possibly the former Johann Martin Kittel (1706-1762).
PURCHASED FROM: hans E. Backer, London, England, 1947.
This tea bowl 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 tea bowl and saucer, painted in onglaze enamels in the Japanese Kakiemon style, has a pattern that represents to the Chinese the Three Friends of Winter. Japan adopted and adapted many themes from Chinese art, and here the plum, pine, and bamboo trees represent the Three Friends of Winter for their simultaneous display of blossom and green foliage in late season snow. When the Mongol invasion brought an end to the Song dynasty Chinese immigrants to Japan brought with them ideas that took hold in Japanese art and literature as well as in the garden designs of the monasteries and the cultured elite. Japan’s urban society of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries developed a romantic sensibility towards nature that was formalized in their garden design and represented in painting and ornament. On the tea bowl and saucer the Three Friends grow from behind brushwood fences. In this Meissen version the arrangement of the design has a greater symmetry than original Japanese Arita wares with this pattern, and it was a design produced for the European market.
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.
On the Japanese 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; Impey, O., Jörg, J. A., Mason, C., 2009, Dragons, Tigers and Bamboo: Japanese Porcelain and its Impact in Europe, the Macdonald Collection. See also Takeshi Nagataki, 2003, Classic Japanese Porcelain: Imari and Kakiemon.
On the Three Friends pattern see Weber, J., 2013, Meissener Porzellane mit Dekoren nach ostasiatischen Vorbildern: Stiftung Ernst Schneider in Schloss Lustheim, Band II, S. 237-245.
For comparison with a similar tea bowl and saucer see Pietsch, U., 2011, Early Meissen Porcelain: the Wark Collection from the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, p.279.
Jefferson Miller II, J., Rückert, R., Syz, H., 1979, Catalogue of the Hans Syz Collection: Meissen Porcelain and Hausmalerei, pp. 164-165.
Location
Currently not on view
date made
1725-1735
maker
Meissen Manufactory
place made
Deutschland: Sachsen, Meissen
Physical Description
hard-paste porcelain (overall material)
polychrome enamels and gold (overall color)
Kakiemon (three friends of winter) (overall style)
Measurements
overall tea bowl: 1 5/8 in x 3 in; 4.1275 cm x 7.62 cm
overall saucer: 7/8 in x 4 7/8 in; 2.2225 cm x 12.3825 cm
ID Number
1981.0702.17ab
catalog number
1981.0702.17ab
accession number
1981.0702
collector/donor number
694ab
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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