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. 4" 10.2cm; D. 6¼" 15.9cm
OBJECT NAME: Pot and stand
PLACE MADE: Meissen, Saxony, Germany
Domestic Furnishing
Industry and Manufacturing
CREDIT LINE: Hans C. Syz Collection
ID NUMBER: 1983.0565.34 abc
(DATA SOURCE: National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center)
MARKS: Caduceus in underglaze blue on pot; crossed swords and a dot in underglaze blue on stand.
PURCHASED FROM: Adolf Beckhardt, The Art Exchange, New York, 1947.
This cream 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 and stand, painted in the Imari style with Indian flowers (indianische Blumen) and heavy fringes of lambrequins falling from the rims, demonstrates the use of underglaze blue painting in conjunction with polychrome overglaze enamels that is characteristic of the original Japanese Imari patterns. The shapes are European, but the pattern came from a Japanese prototype in the collections of Augustus II, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland.
The so-called lambrequin design likely came to Japan through porcelain imported from China where Chinese porcelain painters in turn adapted the design from the stylized lotus flower motif of Buddhist origin in Indian and Tibetan paintings and textiles. Lambrequin is a term used by Western scholars to describe the panels that are reminiscent of ornamental fringes on ceremonial textile canopies or baldechins, and it is also a term with origins in European heraldry (mantling). Eurasian cultures developed the pendant lambrequin motif to adorn interior and exterior architectural features in wood, stucco, and in textiles, often with elaborate foliate designs contained within the pendants. Interesting examples of lambrequin patterns influenced by both Chinese and European motifs can be seen on Rouen soft-paste porcelains. Lambrequin is a word of French origin first used in the 1720s.
Japanese Imari wares came from kilns near Arita in the north-western region of Kyushu, Japan’s southernmost island, and were exported to Europe via the port of Imari to the island of Dejima in the Bay of Nagasaki, from where the Dutch were permitted to trade. 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.
The caduceus mark (Merkurstab) on the cream pot was in use at Meissen as early as 1721-1722 and its application continued into the early 1730s. With the single serpent the mark resembles more closely the staff of the Greek healer of antiquity, Asclepius, and not the twin serpents on the winged staff of Hermes or Mercury, the winged messenger god of ancient Greece and Rome.
The function of this type of object could be to hold a broth for invalids or women recovering from childbirth, or for holding thick cream or a sauce.
For a detailed account of the Imari style and its European imitators see Ayers, J., Impey, O., Mallet, J.V.G., 1990, Porcelain for Palaces: the fashion for Japan in Europe 1650-1750.
Rotondo-McCord, L., 1997, Imari: Japanese Porcelain for European Palaces: The Freda and Ralph Lupin Collection.
For a comparable object see Pietsch, U., 2011, Early Meissen Porcelain: the Wark Collection from the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, p.327, and for more examples and information about this pattern see Weber, J., 2013, Meissener Porzellane mit Dekoren nach ostasiatischen Vorbildern: Stiftung Ernst Schneider in Schloss Lustheim, Band II, S. 65-81.
Jefferson Miller II, J., Rückert, R., Syz, H., 1979, Catalogue of the Hans Syz Collection, pp. 204-205. Note on the caduceus mark p.591.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
ca 1730
Meissen Manufactory
place made
Germany: Saxony, Meissen
Physical Description
hard-paste porcelain (overall material)
underglaze blue, polychrome enamels, and gold (overall color)
Imari (overall style)
pot: 4 in; 10.16 cm
stand: 6 1/4 in; 15.875 cm
overall covered pot: 4 1/8 in x 4 1/2 in x 3 1/2 in; 10.4775 cm x 11.43 cm x 8.89 cm
overall stand: 1 1/4 in x 6 3/16 in; 3.175 cm x 15.6845 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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