Meissen Boettger porcelain rinsing bowl

Description
MARKS: None.
PURCHASED FROM: Hans E. Backer, London, England, 1948.
This rinsing 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 collector and 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.
January 15, 1708, is the date for the earliest known recipe for white hard-paste porcelain, but it took five more years of experiments and trials to develop a product for the market. So-called Böttger porcelain denotes the early years of production from 1713 until Böttger’s death in 1719, but versions of his hard-paste porcelain continued in use until the 1730s.
The rinsing bowl, decorated with applied sprays of roses, has remains of cold painted color (Kaltmalerei) in red and green as well as gold. Efforts to develop enamel colors for porcelain in imitation of the Japanese and Chinese products were at first not successful, and the limited palette of cold colors was used until the Dresden goldsmith, Johann Georg Funcke, applied delicate enamel decoration in the baroque style. This type of rose decoration (Rosen-Laub) was modeled and applied before the bowl was dried and fired. It was inspired by Japanese Imari porcelain imported by Dutch merchants during the seventeenth century. For examples of Japanese Imari vessels from the collection in Dresden see Ayers, J., Impey, O., Mallet, J.V.G., 1990, Porcelain for Palaces: the fashion for Japan in Europe 1650-1750, p.209.
Rinsing bowls received used tea leaves and water for cleansing a tea bowl or cup before refilling. Tea, coffee, chocolate, and sugar were luxury products for early eighteenth-century consumers, and the equipage for these hot beverages, made in silver and new ceramic materials like Meissen’s red stoneware and porcelain, was affordable only to the elite of European society. Less expensive versions for storing and preparing these products were made from wood and tin, from japanned materials, and earthenware pottery in imitation of Chinese porcelain, the so-called Delftwares or tin-glaze pottery, and also the tea bowls and saucers imported from China through the European East India Companies. By the middle of the eighteenth century European pottery and porcelain manufacturers provided consumers with less costly choices for the polite social practice of drinking tea and coffee.
On the introduction of tea see Bowman, P.B., 1995, In Praise of Hot Liquors: The Study of Chocolate, Coffee and Tea-drinking 1600-1850; Ukers, W.H., 1935, All About Tea.
Hans Syz, J. Jefferson Miller II, Rainer Rückert, 1979, Catalogue of the Hans Syz Collection: Meissen Porcelain and Hausmalerei, pp. 50-51.
Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
bowl, rinsing
date made
1713-1720
maker
Meissen Manufactory
Physical Description
polychrome (overall surface decoration color name)
ceramic, porcelain, hard-paste (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 2 7/8 in x 5 7/8 in; 7.3025 cm x 14.9225 cm
overall: 3 1/16 in x 5 7/8 in; 7.77875 cm x 14.9225 cm
Place Made
Deutschland: Sachsen, Meissen
ID Number
CE*61.70
catalog number
61.70
collector/donor number
784
accession number
240074
subject
Domestic Furnishings
Art
The Hans C. Syz Collection
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Ceramics and Glass
The Hans C. Syz Collection
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Hans C. Syz Collection

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