Meissen two-handled bowl (Hausmaler)

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Description
TITLE: Meissen two-handled bowl (Hausmaler)
MAKER: Meissen Manufactory
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: ceramic, porcelain, hard paste (overall material)
MEASUREMENTS: L. (over handles) 6" 15.3 cm
OBJECT NAME: Bowl
PLACE MADE: Meissen, Saxony, Germany
DATE MADE: 1730-1740 Meissen
SUBJECT: The Hans Syz Collection
Art
Domestic Furnishing
Industry and Manufacturing
CREDIT LINE: Hans C. Syz Collection
ID NUMBER: 73.178
COLLECTOR/ DONOR: 274
ACCESSION NUMBER:
(DATA SOURCE: National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center)
MARKS: Crossed swords in underglaze blue.
PURCHASED FROM: Adolf Beckhardt, The Art Exchange, New York, 1943.
This bowl 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 bowl, which should have a cover, 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 even imprisoned them if Hausmalerei activity was suspected or discovered.
The so-called Watteau scenes (Watteauszenen) cover a large group of objects produced entirely within the Meissen Manufactory as well as those painted outside. The paintings of Claude Gillot (1673-1722) Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684-1721) and Nicholas Lancret (1690-1743), all of whom worked in Paris, introduced the elegiac fête galante, scenes of languid and amorous pursuits in lush parkland settings, often featuring figures from the Italian Comedy. These artists in particular established a highly successful genre that was reproduced in prints and adapted for enamel painting by many of the porcelain manufactories and Hausmaler in the mid-eighteenth century.
This bowl, and originally its cover which is missing, was painted in the mid-eighteenth century with finely dressed figures playing musical instruments, probably in the workshop of Franz Ferdinand Mayer of Pressnitz, Bohemia (now Přísečnice in the Czech Republic).
On Hausmaler see Ulrich Pietsch, 2011, Early Meissen Porcelain: The Wark Collection from The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, pp. 43-46.
On Antoine Watteau see Thomas Crow, 1985, Painters and Public Life in Eighteenth-Century Paris, especially chapter II; Donald Posner, 1984, Antoine Watteau.
Hans Syz, J. Jefferson Miller II, Rainer Rückert, 1979, Catalogue of the Hans Syz Collection, pp. 542-543.
Location
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1740
1740
maker
Meissen Manufactory
Physical Description
blue (overall color)
polychrome (overall surface decoration color name)
ceramic, porcelain, hard-paste (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 6 in; 15.24 cm
overall: 2 3/8 in x 6 1/8 in x 4 1/2 in; 6.0325 cm x 15.5575 cm x 11.43 cm
ID Number
CE.73.178
catalog number
73.178
accession number
308538
collector/donor number
274
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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