Meissen dish: from the Stadholder Service

Meissen dish: from the Stadholder Service

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TITLE: Meissen dish
MAKER: Meissen Manufactory
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: ceramic, porcelain (overall material)
MEASUREMENTS: D. 13½" 34.2cm
PLACE MADE: Meissen, Saxony, Germany
DATE MADE: ca. 1763-1774
Domestic Furnishing
Industry and Manufacturing
CREDIT LINE: Hans C. Syz Collection
ID NUMBER: 1983.0565.48
(DATA SOURCE: National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center)
MARKS: Crossed swords with dot in underglaze blue; “34” impressed (former’s number); “///” incised; “Rotterdam” in black overglaze.
PURCHASED FROM: Adolf Beckhardt, The Art Exchange, New York, 1945.
This dish 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 the German States, 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 dish comes from a large dinner service that was in the ownership of Prince Willem V of Orange and Nassau (1748-1806) who was the last hereditary Stadholder, or governor, of the Dutch United Provinces including the colonies in Indonesia and South Africa. The service appears to have been a gift from the Dutch United East India Company (Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie), an institution of which Prince Willem was the chief governor.
The service was painted in onglaze enamels with scenes after topographical prints of sites in the Netherlands and Batavia (present day Jakarta), the Indonesian headquarters for the Dutch East India Company. The subject on this plate is Rotterdam harbor. Most of the prints that the Meissen painters copied quite faithfully were relatively contemporary eighteenth century works, many of them published in Amsterdam after drawings and paintings by artists like Cornelis Pronk (1691-1759), Jan de Beyer (1703-1785) and Abraham de Haen (1707-1748), many featuring sites associated with the Dutch East India Company including the country seats of various Company officials.
Prince Willem went into exile in England in 1795 when hostilities broke out with France. It appears that he took the service with him but was obliged to sell it before he left the country. In 1823 a total of 363 pieces was sold at the auction of the William Beckford collection, but in 1868 it was sold again in 75 lots at Christie’s of London, and items can now be found in many European and North American collections.
For a full account of this service see Abraham L. den Blaauwen, The Meissen Service of Stadholder Willem V, Apeldoorn and Zwolle: Palais Het Loo and Waanders Uitgevers, 1993.
Hans Syz, J. Jefferson Miller II, Rainer Rückert, 1979, Catalogue of the Hans Syz Collection: Meissen Porcelain and Hausmalerei, pp.348-349.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
ca 1763-1774
Meissen Manufactory
place made
Germany: Saxony, Meissen
Physical Description
hard-paste porcelain (overall material)
polychrome enamels and gold (overall color)
harbor scene (overall style)
overall: 13 1/2 in; 34.29 cm
overall: 2 in x 13 1/2 in; 5.08 cm x 34.29 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
collector/donor number
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Ceramics and Glass
Domestic Furnishings
The Hans C. Syz Collection
Meissen Porcelain: The Hans Syz Collection
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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