Meissen miniature vase: one of a pair

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Description
TITLE: Meissen: Pair of miniature vases
MAKER: Meissen Manufactory
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: ceramic, porcelain (overall material)
MEASUREMENTS: H. 3⅛" 8cm
OBJECT NAME: Miniature vases
PLACE MADE: Meissen, Saxony, Germany
DATE MADE: 1745
SUBJECT: The Hans Syz Collection
Art
Domestic Furnishing
Industry and Manufacturing
CREDIT LINE: Hans C. Syz Collection
ID NUMBER: 1989.0715. 10 AB
COLLECTOR/ DONOR: 213 AB
ACCESSION NUMBER:
(DATA SOURCE: National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center)
MARKS: Crossed swords in underglaze blue; “11” impressed.
PURCHASED FROM: Adolf Beckhardt, The Art exchange, New York, 1942.
These miniature vases are 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 miniature baluster-shaped vases have elaborate scroll handles and are painted in overglaze enamels with scattered German flowers (deutsche Blumen). 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. For German flowers Meissen painters referred to Johann Wilhelm Weinmann’s publication, the Phytantoza Iconographia (Nuremberg 1737-1745), in which many of the plates were engraved from drawings by the outstanding botanical illustrator Georg Dionys Ehret (1708-1770).
Other versions of these pear-shaped bottles have no handles and are decorated with Far Eastern patterns in polychrome enamels and underglaze blue. They were used for table decorations, and the visual climax of a festive dinner was the dessert, the course in which specially designed vessels in porcelain and glass supported artfully placed fruits, sweetmeats, jellies and creams, and for which the confectioners created elaborate tableaux in sugar that were later supplemented by porcelain figures and centerpieces.
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. 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 the Meissen dinner services and table decorations see Ulrich Pietsch “Famous Eighteenth-Century Meissen Dinner Services” and Maureen Cassidy-Geiger “”The Hof-Conditorey in Dresden” in Pietsch, U., Banz, C., 2010, Triumph of the Blue Swords: Meissen Porcelain for Aristocracy and Bourgoisie 1710-1815, pp. 94-105; 120-131.
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.368-369.
Location
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1745
1745
maker
Meissen Manufactory
place made
Deutschland: Sachsen, Meissen
Physical Description
hard-paste porcelain (overall material)
polychrome enamels (overall color)
German flowers (overall style)
Measurements
overall: 3 1/8 in; 7.9375 cm
overall: 3 1/8 in x 2 5/8 in x 2 1/8 in; 7.9375 cm x 6.6675 cm x 5.3975 cm
ID Number
1989.0715.10B
accession number
1989.0715
catalog number
1989.0715.10B
collector/donor number
213B
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Ceramics and Glass
Industry & Manufacturing
Domestic Furnishings
The Hans C. Syz Collection
Art
Meissen Porcelain: The Hans Syz Collection
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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