Meissen porcelain soup plate (Stadholder Service)


The soup plate is part of a large table service known as the Stadholder Service after its first owner, Stadholder Willem V of the Netherlands, Prince of Orange and Nassau (1748-1806). Evidence links the service to a commission from the Dutch East India Company (Ostindianische Compagnie), and as Stadholder Willem V was chief governor of the Company, but precise details about the occasion of the gift to Willem are not known.

The entire service was painted by Meissen artists in polychrome enamels with topographical scenes of places in the Dutch Republic and the Dutch colonial port of Batavia (present day Jakarta). A significant number of the scenes depict properties connected to the Dutch East India Company. Meissen artists painted the scenes with considerable accuracy after contemporary Dutch prints made available to the painting division at the Manufactory. The subject in the Meissen painting is the old stock exchange in Rotterdam, based on a print by Jan Caspar Philips (1743) after Cornelis Pronk. See A. L. den Blaauwen below, p. 90. Other Meissen artists painted the floral ornaments, and yet other specialists were responsible for the gold ornament.

The service was molded in Meissen's "New Spanish" design in the rococo style that probably dates to the 1750s, and it was somewhat outmoded in the 1770s.

Provenance: From Meissen in Germany the Stadholder Service was sent to the Netherlands for presentation to Willem V, but when the French invaded in 1795 Willem escaped to England with his large family and took the complete dinner service with him. He did not return with it when he left England a few years later, and William Beckford of Fonthill (1760-1844) acquired the service (it is not known how), probably in the very early years of the nineteenth century. Beckford had a passion for fine and beautiful things, but his ambitious architectural project for the construction of Fonthill Abbey and his collecting activities led to financial difficulties. In 1823 the dinner service was sold at auction to a Mr. Hodges of London. In 1868 Christie’s of London sold the service in lots, and it was then dispersed widely across Europe, but it appears that the Reverend Alfred Duane Pell ((1864-1924) of New York City acquired about fifty or more pieces from the Stadholder Service, possibly on one of his European tours.

On this service see Abraham. L. den Blaauwen, 1993, "The Meissen Service of Stadholder Willem V."

On William Beckford see Derek E. Ostergard, 2001, "William Beckford, 1760-1844: An Eye for the Magnificent."

This soup plate belongs to the Alfred Duane Pell collection in the National Museum of American History. Before Pell (1864-1924) became an Episcopalian clergyman quite late in life, he and his wife Cornelia Livingstone Crosby Pell (1861-1938) travelled widely, and as they travelled they collected European porcelains, silver, and furniture. Pell came from a wealthy family and he purchased the large William Pickhardt Mansion on 5th Avenue and East 74th Street in which to display his vast collection. The Smithsonian was one of several institutions to receive substantial bequests from the Reverend Pell which laid the foundation for their collections of European applied arts in the early twentieth century.

Date Made: 1772-1774

Maker: Meissen Manufactory

Location: Currently not on view

See more items in: Home and Community Life: Ceramics and Glass, Industry & Manufacturing, Art, Domestic Furnishings


Exhibition Location:

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: CE.P-734Catalog Number: P-734Accession Number: 225282

Object Name: Dish, Soup

Physical Description: black (overall color)blue (overall color)polychrome (overall surface decoration color name)ceramic, porcelain, hard-paste (overall material)Measurements: overall: 1 7/8 in x 9 1/4 in; 4.7625 cm x 23.495 cm


Record Id: nmah_579845

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