Meissen Böttger porcelain bowl and cover


TITLE: Meissen bowl and cover (Hausmaler)

MAKER: Meissen Manufactory

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


OBJECT NAME: Covered bowl

PLACE MADE: Meissen, Saxony, Germany

DATE MADE: 1717-1720

SUBJECT: The Hans Syz Collection


Domestic Furnishing

Industry and Manufacturing

CREDIT LINE: Hans C. Syz Collection

ID NUMBER: 1983.0565.63 a,b



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


PURCHASED FROM: Hans E. Backer, London, England, 1947.

This covered bowl 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 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 psychoanalysis 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 covered bowl was made in the Meissen manufactory but possibly painted outside by an independent artist in Augsburg. The ornamental motifs, however, are not typical of the work of known Hausmaler in that city, and the work might be that of a Dresden workshop. Hausmalerei is a German word that means in literal translation ‘home painting’, and it refers to the practice of painting enamels and gold onto the surface of blank ceramics and glass in workshops outside the manufactory of origin.

Böttger porcelain, decorated in gold was sent either to Dresden goldsmithing workshops or to the Hausmaler workshops in Augsburg. Objects previously assumed to be Augsburg Hausmaler work are now thought to have been gilded in Dresden, and this covered bowl may be one of those pieces. Dresden decorators used ducat gold, which was reputedly purer than the metal used in Augsburg, but without analysis of the gold on objects decorated in the two cities it is difficult to confirm where an item like this covered bowl was painted. If it was decorated in Augsburg the Seuter workshop would have carried out the work after 1722 and before 1730.

The covered bowl has the form of an object originally made in metal, probably silver, and it might have had a saucer or stand. If decorated in Dresden the most likely workshop would be that of the goldsmith George Funcke, who also painted delicate polychrome enamels on Meissen porcelain before Johan Georg Höroldt arrived at the Meissen manufactory.

See Pietsch, U., Banz, C., 2010, Triumph of the Blue Swords: Meissen Porcelain for Aristocracy and Bourgoisie 1710-1815, p. 179-180.

On the Augsburg Hausmaler Abraham Seuter see Ducret, S., 1971, Meissner Porzellan bemalt in Augsburg, 1718 bis um 1750, Band 1 Goldmalereien und bunte Chinoiserien, and for a comparable object see p. 250.

On Hausmaler see Ulrich Pietsch, 2011, Early Meissen Porcelain: The Wark Collection from The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, pp. 43-46, and for a similar object see p.505.

Hans Syz, J. Jefferson Miller II, Rainer Rückert, 1979, Catalogue of the Hans Syz Collection: Meissen Porcelain and Huasmaler, pp. 490-491.

Date Made: 1713-1720ca 1713-1720

Maker: Meissen Manufactory

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: Germany: Saxony, Meissen

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: Hans C. Syz Collection

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 1983.0565.63abCatalog Number: 1983.0565.63abAccession Number: 1983.0565Collector/Donor Number: 689

Object Name: bowl, sugar

Physical Description: hard-paste Boettger porcelain (overall material)painted in onglaze gold (overall color)ceramic, porcelain, hard-paste (overall material)gilt (overall production method/technique)Measurements: overall: 5 1/2 in; 13.97 cmoverall: 5 1/2 in x 5 7/8 in x 4 1/2 in; 13.97 cm x 14.9225 cm x 11.43 cm


Record Id: nmah_1415629

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