Meissen teapot and cover (Hausmaler)

Meissen teapot and cover (Hausmaler)

<< >>
Usage conditions apply
TITLE: Meissen teapot and cover (Hausmaler)
MAKER: Meissen Manufactory
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: ceramic, porcelain, hard paste (overall material)
MEASUREMENTS: 4¼" 10.8 cm.
PLACE MADE: Meissen, Saxony, Germany
DATE MADE: 1713-1720, painted 1720-1730
SUBJECT: The Hans Syz Collection
Domestic Furnishing
Industry and Manufacturing
CREDIT LINE: Hans C. Syz Collection
ID NUMBER: 1987.0896.42
(DATA SOURCE: National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center)
PURCHASED FROM: Hans E. Backer, London, England, 1950.
This teapot is part of 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 teapot was made in the Meissen manufactory but 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 of 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 teapot was made at Meissen in Böttger porcelain ca. 1715 to 1720, but decorated about 1720 to 1730, probably by the Bohemian Hausmaler Ignaz Preissler (1676-1741). Preissler typically used the technique of painting black transparent enamel (Schwarzlot) onto the surface of the porcelain and then scratched the image through the color. The technique originated in stained glass making, and Preissler followed the tradition established in the German city of Nuremberg, an important center for the use of this technique on glass. Ignaz Preissler and his father Daniel worked on glass and on Chinese porcelain as well as blanks from the Meissen and Vienna porcelain manufactories.
The battle scenes probably depict engagements in the War of Spanish Succession (1701-1714), a conflict between European powers that arose following the death of the childless Charles II of Spain, the last of the Spanish Habsburgs. Publishers produced fine print collections to commemorate events of military and political importance, and collectors bought editions for their libraries. The likely source for the battle scenes were prints after the work of the battle scene painter, Georg Rugendas (1666-1742), perhaps prints executed by his son Georg Philipp.
The Hans Syz collection holds a Böttger porcelain teapot of similar shape to this one, but decorated in the manufactory with a rose in relief on both sides (ID number 1981.0702.14).
On the Hausmaler Ignaz Preissler see Maureen Cassidy-Geiger, 1989, Representatio Belli, ob Successionem in Regno Hispanico…: A Tea Service Garniture by the Schwarzlot Decorator Ignaz Preissler, The Metropolitan Museum Journal, Vol. 24 pp. 239-254.
On war as a subject of printmaking see James Clifton, Leslie M. Scatone, Ermine Fetvaci, 2009, The Plains of Mars: European War Prints 1500-1825.
Hans Syz, J. Jefferson Miller II, Rainer Rückert, 1979, Catalogue of the Hans Syz Collection: Meissen Porcelain and Hausmalerei, pp. 526-527.
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)
black (Schwarzlot) and gold (overall color)
battle scenes (overall style)
overall: 4 1/4 in; 10.795 cm
overall: 4 5/16 in x 6 1/4 in x 4 1/8 in; 10.95375 cm x 15.875 cm x 10.4775 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
Nominate this object for photography.   

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.


Add a comment about this object