Meissen Boettger porcelain rinsing bowl

Description
MARKS: None.
PURCHASED FROM: Hans E. Backer, London, England, 1947.
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.
Rinsing bowls were used to take the dregs remaining in a tea bowl before rinsing and refilling with fresh tea from the pot. The raised foliate design on this bowl possibly represents a more naturalistic rendering of the acanthus leaf (acanthus spinosus) or a type of common thistle and may belong to the same service as the coffeepot (ID number 75.187) .
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 and coffee see Bowman, P.B., 1995, In Praise of Hot Liquors: The Study of Chocolate, Coffee and Tea-drinking 1600-1850. See also Weinberg, B.A, Bealer B.K., 2002, The World of Caffeine: The Science and Culture of the World's Most Popular Drug.
Hans Syz, J. Jefferson Miller II, Rainer Rückert, 1979, Catalogue of the Hans Syz Collection: Meissen Porcelain and Hausmalerei, pp.42-43.
Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
bowl
date made
1713-1720
maker
Meissen Manufactory
Physical Description
monochrome, (overall surface decoration color name)
ceramic, porcelain, hard-paste (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 3 3/8 in x 6 3/4 in; 8.5725 cm x 17.145 cm
overall: 3 3/8 in x 6 15/16 in; 8.5725 cm x 17.62125 cm
place made
Deutschland: Sachsen, Meissen
ID Number
CE*75.186
catalog number
75.186
collector/donor number
656
accession number
319073
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

Visitor Comments

Add a comment about this object

**Please read before submitting the form**

Have a comment or question about this object to share with the community? Please use the form below. Selected comments will appear on this page and may receive a museum response (but we can't promise). Please note that we generally cannot answer questions about the history, rarity, or value of your personal artifacts.

Have a question about anything else, or would you prefer a personal response? Please visit our FAQ or contact page.

Personal information will not be shared or result in unsolicited e-mail. See our privacy policy.

Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.