Meissen figure of a woman personifying faith

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Description
TITLE: Meissen figure of a woman personifying Faith
MAKER: Meissen Manufactory
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: ceramic, porcelain, hard paste (overall material)
MEASUREMENTS: 7" 17.8 cm
OBJECT NAME: Figure
PLACE MADE: Meissen, Saxony, Germany
DATE MADE: 1740-1745
SUBJECT: The Hans Syz Collection
Art
Domestic Furnishing
Industry and Manufacturing
CREDIT LINE: Hans C. Syz Collection
ID NUMBER: 1993.447.06
COLLECTOR/ DONOR: 1066
ACCESSION NUMBER:
(DATA SOURCE: National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center)
MARKS: None
PURCHASED FROM: The Art Exchange, New York, 1959.
This figure 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 Germany, 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 figure represents the personification of Faith with some of her attributes. She holds the Books of the Old and New Testament in her left hand and the lower part of a cross in her right hand. Usually dressed in white to represent purity, she is depicted in clothing of a restrained style. This figure was possibly modeled by Johann Friedrich Eberlein (1696-1749).
Personifications became more common in the Meissen repertoire of figures in the mid-eighteenth century. They were not new representations in the visual arts, and one of the earliest publications to gather a collection of allegorical personifications was that of Cesare Ripa; his Iconologia was first published in 1593, but without illustrations. Ripa’s Iconologia became a standard resource for artists, artisans, architects, and authors seeking to represent allegorical ideas in visual and verbal form. Later editions of Ripa’s text were illustrated.
Meissen figures and figure groups are usually sculpted in special modeling clay and then cut carefully into separate pieces from which individual molds are made. Porcelain clay is then pressed into the molds and the whole figure or group reassembled to its original form, a process requiring great care and skill. The piece is then dried thoroughly before firing in the kiln. In the production of complex figure groups the work is arduous and requires the making of many molds from the original model.
The figure is painted in overglaze enamel colors.
On the modeling and molding process still practiced today at Meissen see Alfred Ziffer, “‘…skillfully made ready for moulding…’ The Work of Johann Joachim Kaendler” in Pietsch, U., Banz, C., 2010, Triumph of the Blue Swords: Meissen Porcelain for Aristocracy and Bourgeoisie 1710-1815, pp.61-67.
Hans Syz, J. Jefferson Miller II, Rainer Rückert, 1979, Catalogue of the Hans Syz Collection: Meissen Porcelain and Hausmalerei, pp. 460-46.
Location
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1740-1745
1740-1745
maker
Meissen Manufactory
place made
Deutschland: Sachsen, Meissen
Physical Description
hard-paste porcelain (overall material)
polychrome enamels (overall color)
allegorical figure (overall style)
Measurements
overall: 7 in; 17.78 cm
overall: 6 7/8 in x 3 1/8 in x 2 3/16 in; 17.4625 cm x 7.9375 cm x 5.55625 cm
ID Number
1993.0447.06
accession number
1993.0447
catalog number
1993.0447.06
collector/donor number
1066
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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