Meissen Boettger porcelain teapot and cover

MARKS: None.
PURCHASED FROM: Adolf Beckhardt, The Art Exchange, New York, 1947.
This teapot is from the Smithsonian’s Hans Syz Collection of European 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 German Jewish collector and New York dealer Adolf Beckhardt (1889-1962), formerly of Frankfurt-am-Main. 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 twisted stem handle on this teapot connects with the applied sprays of roses wrapped around the vessel. This type of rose decoration (Rosen-Laub) was inspired by Japanese Imari porcelain imported by Dutch merchants during the seventeenth century. The Imari vessels were highly colored but the Meissen Manufactory had not yet found a way to produce durable enamels for application on porcelain. 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.
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. For the growing numbers of people who could afford to purchase tea and coffee, but not the costly vessels for storage, preparation and the drinking of these beverages, less expensive versions of equipage became available made in earthenware pottery in imitation of Chinese blue and white 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, pp. 46-47.
Currently not on view
Object Name
teapot and cover
date made
Meissen Manufactory
Physical Description
monochrome, (overall surface decoration color name)
ceramic, porcelain, hard-paste (overall material)
overall: 3 5/8 in; 9.2075 cm
place made
Deutschland: Sachsen, Meissen
ID Number
catalog number
collector/donor number
accession number
Domestic Furnishings
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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