Meissen cup and saucer

Meissen cup and saucer

<< >>
TITLE: Meissen cup and saucer
MAKER: Meissen Manufactory
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: ceramic, porcelain (overall material)
MEASUREMENTS: Cup: H. 2⅝" 6.7cm; Saucer: D. 5⅛" 13.1cm
OBJECT NAME: Cup and saucer
PLACE MADE: Meissen, Saxony, Germany
Domestic Furnishing
Industry and Manufacturing
CREDIT LINE: Hans C. Syz Collection
ID NUMBER: 1983.0565.23 ab
(DATA SOURCE: National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center)
MARKS: Crossed swords in underglaze blue; “F” in underglaze blue and “6” impressed on cup; “K” in underglaze blue and “O” impressed on saucer, possibly the former Johann Casper Hasse.
PURCHASED FROM: E. Pinkus, New York, 1946.
This cup and saucer 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 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 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.
Painted on this cup and saucer in underglaze blue and onglaze purple and gold is the so-called little table pattern (Tischchenmuster) a Meissen adaptation of Far Eastern styles. There are many examples of this pattern and on this cup and saucer a wider range of colors; red, yellow and green enrich the mixed floral arrangement that extends to the rim of the saucer and around the cup. Typically the pattern has an abundance of flowers and foliage rising from behind a small table and garden fence, but on Japanese wares made for export the design is organized with a greater degree of symmetry more appealing to European taste, and which the Meissen designers further exploited here.
Imari wares came from kilns in the north-western region of Kyushu, Japan’s southernmost island, near the town of Arita and were exported through the port of Imari. Decorated in the Aka-e-machi, the enameling center in Arita, Imari wares are generally distinguished from those made in the Kakiemon style by the darker palette of enamel colors and densely patterned surfaces, some of which are clearly derived from Japanese and South-East Asian textiles and known in Japan as brocade ware (nishiki-de), but there are considerable variations within this broad outline. Unlike the Kakiemon style a high proportion of Japanese Imari wares combined underglaze blue painting with overglaze enamel colors.
The little table pattern was not in use on services for the Saxon and Polish royal households and it was particularly successful in the later eighteenth century, very likely appealing to consumers from the increasingly affluent entrepreneurial class in the German States, especially in cities like Leipzig and Berlin.
The “little table pattern” is associated with the Imari style of decoration produced in Arita
On the little table pattern see Weber, J., 2013, Meissener Porzellane mit Dekoren nach ostasiatischen Vorbildern: Stiftung Ernst Schneider in Schloss Lustheim, pp.95-103.
For several examples of this pattern in polychrome see Pietsch, U., 2011, Early Meissen Porcelain: the Wark Collection from the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, pp. 312-319.
On Johann Casper Hasse see Rückert, R., 1990, Biographische Daten der Meissener Manufakturisten des 18. Jahrhunderts, p.110.
Jefferson Miller II, J., Rückert, R., Syz, H., 1979, Catalogue of the Hans Syz Collection: Meissen Porcelain and Hausmalerei, pp. 166-167.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
ca 1740
Meissen Manufactory
place made
Germany: Saxony, Meissen
Physical Description
hard-paste porcelain (overall material)
underglaze blue, polychrome enamels and gold (overall color)
cup: 2 5/8 in; 6.6675 cm
saucer: 5 1/8 in; 13.0175 cm
overall cup: 2 7/8 in x 3 1/2 in x 2 7/8 in; 7.3025 cm x 8.89 cm x 7.3025 cm
overall saucer: 1 1/8 in x 5 1/8 in; 2.8575 cm x 13.0175 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