Meissen Böttger porcelain coffee pot (Hausmaler)

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Description
MARKS: “8” in gold.
PURCHASED FROM: Leopold Blumka, New York, March 14, 1947.
This coffeepot 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 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 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 coffeepot was made in the Meissen manufactory but painted outside by an independent artist. Hausmalerei is a German word that means in literal translation ‘home painting’, and it refers to the practice of painting enamels and gold onto the surface of blank ceramics and glass in workshops outside the manufactory of origin. Beginning in the seventeenth century the work of the Hausmaler varied in quality from the outstanding workshops of Nuremberg, Augsburg, and Breslau (now Wroclaw in Poland), to the less skilled efforts of amateur artists. Early Meissen porcelain was sought after for this purpose, and wealthy patrons of local enameling and gilding workshops purchased undecorated porcelain, often of out-moded or inferior quality, which was then enameled with subjects of their choice. Hausmalerei was at first acceptable to the early porcelain manufactories like Meissen and Vienna, and Meissen sent blank porcelain to Augsburg workshops for decoration, but as the market became more competitive they tried to eradicate the practice. It was a temptation for Meissen porcelain painters to take on extra work as Hausmaler to augment their low pay, and the manufactory cautioned or imprisoned them if Hausmalerei activity was suspected or discovered.
The pear-shaped coffeepot, painted by an Augsburg Hausmaler during the 1730s, has a hunting scene based on a drawings by Johann Elias Ridinger (1698-1767), engraved by Georg Christoph Steudler. The scene depicts a deer hunt in which the animals were contained within a large enclosure and driven towards the horsemen and dogs by men on foot. The cover has chinoiseries in gold and the scrolled borders are typical of Augsburg Hausmalerei, possibly the work of Abraham Seuter.
On the Augsburg Hausmaler Abraham Seuter see Ducret, S., 1971, Meissner Porzellan bemalt in Augsburg, 1718 bis um 1750, Band 1 Goldmalereien und bunte Chinoiserien.
On Hausmaler see Ulrich Pietsch, 2011, Early Meissen Porcelain: The Wark Collection from The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, pp. 43-46.
Hans Syz, J. Jefferson Miller II, Rainer Rückert, 1979, Catalogue of the Hans Syz Collection, pp. 496-497.
Location
Currently not on view
date made
1715-1720
ca 1715-1720
maker
Meissen Manufactory
Physical Description
ceramic, porcelain, hard-paste (overall material)
gilt (overall production method/technique)
chinoiserie (joint piece style)
Measurements
overall: 6 7/8 in; 17.4625 cm
overall: 7 1/16 in x 4 7/8 in x 3 11/16 in; 17.93875 cm x 12.3825 cm x 9.36625 cm
ID Number
CE.66.170ab
catalog number
66.170ab
collector/donor number
611
accession number
270694
Credit Line
Hans C. Syz Collection
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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