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Meissen covered pot and stand

Meissen covered pot and stand

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TITLE: Meissen covered pot and stand
MAKER: Meissen Manufactory
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: ceramic, porcelain (overall material)
MEASUREMENTS: Pot: H 4½" 11.4cm; Stand: D. 6¾" 17.2cm
OBJECT NAME: Pot and stand
PLACE MADE: Meissen, Saxony, Germany
DATE MADE: ca. 1730-1735
Domestic Furnishing
Industry and Manufacturing
CREDIT LINE: Hans C. Syz Collection
ID NUMBER: 1981.0702.3 Aab, Bab
(DATA SOURCE: National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center)
MARKS: Crossed swords in underglaze blue.
PURCHASED FROM: Adolf Beckhardt, The Art Exchange, New York, 1942.
This pot and stand 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 covered pot with three lion’s feet carry onglaze enamel subjects of harbor and waterside scenes painted in purple. On the pot there is a continuous and busy Kauffahrtei scene with merchants engaged in business while laborers prepare cargo on the quayside. The cover has a waterside landscape on one side and two men preparing cargo on the other. On the stand a loading quay reaches out over a river with a harbor in the distance.
Waterways formed a major conduit for trade in the seventeenth-century Dutch Republic, and artists produced a large number of paintings and prints that featured everyday life alongside rivers, canals and harbors. The harbor scenes of the seventeenth century represented to the Dutch their success in trade from the Baltic to the Mediterranean and the Far East at a time when the Republic was the most prosperous seafaring nation in Europe. The popularity of these subjects extended into the eighteenth century, and introduced at Meissen in the 1720s they remained in the manufactory’s repertoire until the 1750s. The enduring popularity of waterside and landscape subjects, especially the tranquil rural scenes depicted in prints by artists like Jan van de Velde, held particular appeal for Europeans confined to city and court. Long before Meissen began production Dutch artists realized the potential for a market in prints that led viewers into pleasant places real and imagined. In seventeenth-century Amsterdam there was a flourishing publishing industry to support the production of illustrated books and print series for buyers to view at their leisure. Printed images enriched people’s lives and a series of prints might take the viewer on a journey, real or imaginary. Prints performed a role in European visual culture later extended by photography and film, and they provided artisans and artists with images, motifs, and patterns applied in many branches of the applied arts.
The Meissen manufactory operated under a system of division of labor. Enamel painters specializing in landscapes, harbor, and river scenes with staffage (figures and animals) were paid more than those who painted flowers, fruits and underglaze blue patterns. Most painters received pay by the piece rather than a regular wage or salary.
The pot was used to serve hot broth or bouillon, often to a sick person in the household.
On seventeenth-century Dutch art see Gibson, W.S., (2000) Pleasant Places: the rustic landscape from Bruegel to Ruisdael; Goddard, S.H., (1984) Sets and Series: prints from the Low Countries, exhibition catalog, Yale University Art Gallery.
On the painting division at Meissen see Rückert, R., 1990, Biographische Daten der Meissener Manufakturisten des 18. Jahrhunderts, pp. 134-136.
Hans Syz, J. Jefferson Miller II, Rainer Rückert, 1979, Catalogue of the Hans Syz Collection: Meissen Porcelain and Hausmalerei, pp. 112-113.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
Meissen Manufactory
place made
Germany: Saxony, Meissen
Physical Description
hard-paste porcelain (overall material)
purple monochrome and gold (overall color)
harbor scenes (overall style)
overall pot and cover: 4 5/8 in x 5 1/8 in x 4 in; 11.7475 cm x 13.0175 cm x 10.16 cm
overall stand: 1 1/4 in x 6 3/4 in; 3.175 cm x 17.145 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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