Meissen plate

TITLE: Meissen plate
MAKER: Meissen Manufactory
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: ceramic, porcelain (overall material)
MEASUREMENTS: D. 8¾" 22.3cm
PLACE MADE: Meissen, Saxony, Germany
Domestic Furnishing
Industry and Manufacturing
CREDIT LINE: Hans C. Syz Collection
ID NUMBER: 63.246
(DATA SOURCE: National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center)
MARKS: Crossed swords with curved guards and “K” in underglaze blue (painter’s mark).
PURCHASED FROM: William H. Lautz, New York, 1948.
This plate 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.
The plate has a scalloped rim and is decorated in the Japanese Imari style with polychrome onglaze enamel chrysanthemums painted in the center on white, and framed by a bold lambrequin design with alternating panels of stylized flowers. Painted on the underside of the stand are flowers and prunus branches in underglaze blue and iron-red.
The plate is one of many decorated with variations on this pattern based on a Japanese model that is still in the porcelain collection of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen in Dresden, but with a less ornate design in dark blue, iron-red, and gold. Meissen began production of a dinner service in about 1730, and one such was delivered to the palace of Wilanow, the royal residence in Warsaw, in 1732.
The so-called lambrequin pattern is a term used by Western scholars to describe the panels that are reminiscent of ornamental fringes on ceremonial textile canopies or baldechins, but here most likely a Meissen copy of Japanese imitations of Chinese porcelains decorated with panels of stylized lotus blossoms that the Chinese adopted from Indian, and especially Tibetan Buddhist iconography in paintings, statuary, and textiles.
Japanese Imari wares came from kilns near the town of Arita in the north-western region of Kyushu, Japan’s southernmost island, and were exported by the Dutch from their base on the island of Dejima through the port of Imari. Decorated in the enameling center of Arita, Imari wares are generally distinguished from those made in the Kakiemon style by the darker palette of enamel colors and densely patterned surfaces.
Original Japanese Imari collected by the European aristocracy was much admired for its opulent decorative style. When no longer imported to Europe imitations of the Imari style gained wider popularity later in the eighteenth century, most notably in the products of the English Worcester and Derby porcelain manufactories, and Royal Crown Derby continues to produce a derivative pattern called Traditional Imari today.
For a detailed account of the Imari style and its European imitators see Ayers, J., Impey, O., Mallet, J.V.G., 1990, Porcelain for Palaces: the fashion for Japan in Europe 1650-1750.See also Rotondo-McCord, L., 1997, Imari: Japanese Porcelain for European Palaces: The Freda and Ralph Lupin Collection; Takeshi Nagataki, 2003, Classic Japanese Porcelain: Imari and Kakiemon; Goro Shimura, 2008, The Story of Imari: the Symbols and Mysteries of antique Japanese Porcelain.
For more examples and details about the lambrequin pattern see Weber, J., 2013, Meissener Porzellane mit Dekoren nach ostasiatischen Vorbildern: Stiftung Ernst Schneider in Schloss Lustheim, Band II, S. 65-81, with a companion plate to this one from the collection of Hans Syz Katalog Nr. 60, S. 78-79.
On the impact of Chinese porcelain in a global context see Robert Finlay, 2010, The Pilgrim Art: Cultures of Porcelain in World History.
Jefferson Miller II, J., Rückert, R., Syz, H., 1979, Catalogue of the Hans Syz Collection, pp. 202-203.
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1730
Meissen Manufactory
place made
Deutschland: Sachsen, Meissen
Physical Description
blue (overall color)
polychrome (overall surface decoration color name)
ceramic, porcelain, hard-paste (overall material)
imari (joint piece style)
overall: 8 3/4 in; 22.225 cm
overall: 1 1/4 in x 8 3/4 in; 3.175 cm x 22.225 cm
ID Number
catalog number
collector/donor number
accession number
Credit Line
Dr. Hans Syz
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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