Meissen dish

TITLE: Meissen dish
MAKER: Meissen Manufactory
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: ceramic, porcelain (overall material)
MEASUREMENTS: D. 13⅜" 34cm
PLACE MADE: Meissen, Saxony, Germany
SUBJECT: The Hans Syz Collection
Domestic Furnishing
Industry and Manufacturing
CREDIT LINE: Hans C. Syz Collection
ID NUMBER: 1989.0715.25
(DATA SOURCE: National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center)
MARKS: Crossed swords in underglaze blue; “67” impressed; “///” incised.
PURCHASED FROM: Adolf Beckhardt, The Art Exchange, New York, 1941.
This dish 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.
Painted in overglaze enamels with naturalistic flowers the dish with its petal-shaped edge has a basket weave border in shallow relief known as the “old Ozier”(Alt Ozier) pattern. Following the appointment to the manufactory in 1733 of court sculptor Johann Joachim Kaendler (1706-1775), modeling techniques became more sophisticated. The process of creating shallow relief patterns was laborious and required considerable skill. The sources for designs in relief came from pattern books and engravings, especially those by the French designer Jean Bérain the Elder (1638-1711), and the Nuremberg designer Paul Decker (1677-1713) among others. These designs were applied in architecture, interior stucco work and wood carving, furniture, wall coverings, and ceramics. The “old ozier” pattern seen here was first recorded at Meissen in 1736 as the work of the modeler Johann Friedrich Eberlein (1695-1749); “ozier” refers to the French and English term “osier” for the willow native to European wetlands from which the strong and flexible twigs are used to make baskets.
European flowers began to appear on Meissen porcelain in about 1740 as the demand for Far Eastern patterns became less dominant and more high quality printed sources became available in conjunction with growing interest in the scientific study of flora and fauna. The flowers painted on this dish developed from the earlier German flowers (deutsche Blumen) into the so-called mannered flowers (manier Blumen), depicted in this looser less botanically correct and somewhat overblown style later referred to as naturalistic flowers, based for example on the work of painter and interior designers Jean-Baptiste Monnoyer (1633-1699) and Louis Tessier (1719?-1781).
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. Details in gold were applied by specialists in gold painting and polishing at Meissen. In the late eighteenth century flower painters were even busier and consumer taste for floral decoration on domestic “china” has endured 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 relief decoration at Meissen see Reinheckel, G., 1968, ‘Plastiche Dekorationsformen im Meissner Porzellan des 18 Jahrhunderts’ in Keramos, 41/42, Juli/Oktober , p. 103, 104, 72-No. 54.
On graphic sources for Meissen porcelain see Möller, K. A., “Meissen Pieces Based on Graphic Originals” in Pietsch, U., Banz, C., 2010, Triumph of the Blue Swords: Meissen Porcelain for Aristocracy and Bourgoisie 1710-1815, pp.85-93; Cassidy-Geiger, M., 1996, ‘Graphic Sources for Meissen Porcelain’ in Metropolitan Museum Journal, 31, pp.99-126.
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. 386-387.
Currently not on view
date made
Meissen Manufactory
place made
Deutschland: Sachsen, Meissen
Physical Description
hard-paste porcelain (overall material)
polychrome enamels and gold (overall color)
European flowers (overall style)
overall: 13 3/8 in; 33.9725 cm
overall: 2 1/4 in x 13 9/16 in; 5.715 cm x 34.44875 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
collector/donor number
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Ceramics and Glass
Domestic Furnishings
The Hans C. Syz Collection
Meissen Porcelain: The Hans Syz Collection
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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