Meissen jar and cover

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Description
TITLE: Meissen jar and cover
MAKER: Meissen Manufactory
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: ceramic, porcelain (overall material)
MEASUREMENTS: H. 4⅜" 11.1cm; D. 3⅝" 9.2cm
OBJECT NAME: Covered jar
PLACE MADE: Meissen, Saxony, Germany
DATE MADE: 1740-1750
SUBJECT:
Art
Domestic Furnishing
Industry and Manufacturing
CREDIT LINE: Hans C. Syz Collection
ID NUMBER: 1989.0715.02 a,b
COLLECTOR/ DONOR: 332 a,b
ACCESSION NUMBER:
(DATA SOURCE: National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center)
MARKS: Crossed swords in underglaze blue; “A” in gold; “10” impressed.
PURCHASED FROM: Adolf Beckhardt, The Art Exchange, New York, 1943.
This covered jar is from the Smithsonian’s Hans Syz Collection of Meissen Porcelain. Dr. Syz (1894-1991) began collecting 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 psychoanalysis 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 covered jar has overglaze enamel painted scenes based on the fêtes galantes .The French artist Jean Antoine Watteau (1684-1721) developed the subject of the fêtes galantes from the outdoor entertainments in private and public pleasure parks that represent youthful elite society removed from the conventions of court protocol. Watteau’s works depicted conversational, theatrical, and amorous encounters set in idealized pastoral surroundings where the fleeting nature of temporal pleasures hangs over the delicately poised gatherings, and they struck a chord with living protagonists.
In the early 1740s the Meissen manufactory began to acquire collections 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.
Solitary figures of a man and a woman in pastoral settings appear on the cover. On the jar there is a woman seated on the ground holding a rose with a young girl beside her, while on the reverse an elegant young couple rest on the ground before a stone plinth. The young couple came from an engraving after Watteau’s painting Les Champs Elysées, possibly from a print by Nicolas-Henri Tardieu (1674-1749) in the collection of engravings after Watteau published by Jean de Jullienne (1686-1766).
The Meissen manufactory operated under a system of division of labor. Flower and fruit 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. Ornamental gold painting and polishing was the work of other specialists in the manufactory’s painting division.
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. 344-345.
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)
Watteau scenes (overall style)
Measurements
overall: 4 3/8 in x 3 5/8 in; 11.1125 cm x 9.2075 cm
overall: 4 3/8 in x 3 5/8 in; 11.1125 cm x 9.2075 cm
ID Number
1989.0715.02ab
catalog number
1989.0715.02ab
accession number
1989.0715
collector/donor number
332
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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