Meissen mug (Hausmaler)

Meissen mug (Hausmaler)

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TITLE: Meissen mug (Hausmaler)
MAKER: Meissen Manufactory
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: ceramic, porcelain, hard paste (overall material)
MEASUREMENTS: 4⅜" 11.1 cm
PLACE MADE: Meissen, Saxony, Germany
DATE MADE: 1715-1720 Meissen
SUBJECT: The Hans Syz Collection
Domestic Furnishing
Industry and Manufacturing
CREDIT LINE: Hans C. Syz Collection
ID NUMBER: 1987.0896.41
(DATA SOURCE: National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center)
PURCHASED FROM: Blumka Gallery, New York City, 1953.
This mug 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 mug was made possibly in the Meissen manufactory, although it could be from the DuPaquier manufactory in Vienna, but it was painted outside by an independent artist. 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. Beginning in the seventeenth century the work of the Hausmaler varied in quality from the outstanding workshops of Nuremberg, Augsburg, and Breslau (now Wroclaw in Poland), to the less skilled efforts of amateur artists. Early Meissen porcelain was sought after for this purpose, and wealthy patrons of local enameling and gilding workshops purchased undecorated porcelain, often of out-moded or inferior quality, which was then enameled with subjects of their choice. Hausmalerei was at first acceptable to the early porcelain manufactories like Meissen and Vienna, and Meissen sent blank porcelain to Augsburg workshops for decoration, but as the market became more competitive they tried to eradicate the practice. It was a temptation for Meissen porcelain painters to take on extra work as Hausmaler to augment their low pay, and the manufactory cautioned or imprisoned them if Hausmalerei activity was suspected or discovered.
The mug is painted with a harbor scene in iron red and black (schwarzlot) by the Preissler family workshop in Breslau (now Wroclaw in Poland). There is a firing defect on the base of the interior disguised by a realistic fly painted in black.
The source for the harbor scene is likely one of the many prints circulating in artisan workshops after the paintings of Dutch artists of the mid-to-late 1600s that retained their popularity well into the eighteenth century.
On Hausmaler see Ulrich Pietsch, 2011, Early Meissen Porcelain: The Wark Collection from The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, pp. 43-46.
Hans Syz, J. Jefferson Miller II, Rainer Rückert, 1979,Catalogue of the Hans Syz Collection: Meissen Porcelain and Hausmalerei, pp.524-525.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
ca 1715-1720
Meissen Manufactory
place made
Germany: Saxony, Meissen
Physical Description
hard-paste porcelain (overall material)
iron-red and black (Schwarzlot) (overall color)
harbor scene (overall style)
overall: 4 3/8 in; 11.1125 cm
overall: 4 3/8 in x 4 7/8 in x 3 7/16 in; 11.1125 cm x 12.3825 cm x 8.73125 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession 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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