Meissen figure of a girl with flowers


TITLE: Meissen figure of a girl with flowers

MAKER: Meissen Manufactory

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: ceramic, porcelain, hard paste (overall material)

MEASUREMENTS: 3¼" 8.3 cm


PLACE MADE: Meissen, Saxony, Germany

DATE MADE: 1750-1760

SUBJECT: The Hans Syz Collection


Domestic Furnishing

Industry and Manufacturing

CREDIT LINE: Hans C. Syz Collection

ID NUMBER: 1987.0896.33



(DATA SOURCE: National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center)

MARKS: Crossed swords in blue on unglazed base.

PURCHASED FROM: Adolf Beckhardt, The Art Exchange, New York, 1941.

This figure 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 figure is from the series of miniature cupids, although she has no wings. She was modeled by Johann Joachim Kaendler (1706-1775) or Friedrich Elias Meyer (1724-1785). She is dressed as a gardener in a gardener’s hat and holds a bouquet of flowers.

Many of the child and cupid figures are diminutive versions of adult subjects, especially gardeners, earlier modeled by Kaendler and again retouched and repaired by Acier in the 1760s. Child musicians, vintners and street traders (see the pastry seller 1993.447.03), children impersonating characters from the Italian Comedy (see 1987.0896.31), children dancing, are common themes. Drawings by, and engravings after, the French painter François Boucher, were the models for many of the child figures, especially the pastoral subjects and flower girls.

Meissen figures and figure groups are usually sculpted in special modeling clay and then carefully cut into separate pieces from which individual molds are made. Porcelain clay is then pressed into the molds and the whole figure or group reassembled to its original form, a process requiring great care and skill. The piece is then dried thoroughly before firing in the kiln. In the production of complex figure groups the work is arduous and requires the making of many molds from the original model.

The figure is painted in overglaze enamel colors.

On the modeling and molding process still practiced today at Meissen see Alfred Ziffer, “‘…skillfully made ready for moulding…’ The Work of Johann Joachim Kaendler” in Pietsch, U., Banz, C., 2010, Triumph of the Blue Swords: Meissen Porcelain for Aristocracy and Bourgeoisie 1710-1815, pp.61-67.

(Hans Syz, J. Jefferson Miller II, Rainer Rückert, 1979, Catalogue of the Hans Syz Collection: Meissen Porcelain and Hausmalerei, p.472-473.

Date Made: ca 1750-17601750-1760

Maker: Meissen Manufactory

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: Germany: Saxony, Meissen

Subject: Manufacturing


See more items in: Home and Community Life: Ceramics and Glass, The Hans C. Syz Collection, Meissen Porcelain: The Hans Syz Collection, Art, Domestic Furnishings


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Dr. Hans Syz

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 1987.0896.33Catalog Number: 1987.0896.33Accession Number: 1987.0896Collector/Donor Number: 72

Object Name: figurine, miniature

Physical Description: blue underglaze (overall color)hard-paste porcelain (overall material)polychrome enamels (overall color)child figure (overall style)Measurements: overall: 3 1/4 in; 8.255 cmoverall: 3 3/8 in x 2 in x 1 15/16 in; 8.5725 cm x 5.08 cm x 4.92125 cm


Record Id: nmah_1406476

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