Meissen pot and cover

Meissen pot and cover

<< >>
Usage conditions apply
TITLE: Meissen three-footed broth pot and cover
MAKER: Meissen Manufactory
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: ceramic, porcelain (overall material)
MEASUREMENTS: H. 5⅛" 13.1cm
OBJECT NAME: Covered pot
PLACE MADE: Meissen, Saxony, Germany
DATE MADE: 1735-1740
Domestic Furnishing
Industry and Manufacturing
CREDIT LINE: Hans C. Syz Collection
ID NUMBER: 1983.0565.35ab
(DATA SOURCE: National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center)
MARKS: Crossed swords in underglaze blue and “K” in underglaze blue (painter’s mark).
PURCHASED FROM: Adolf Beckhardt, The Art Exchange, 1943.
This three-footed broth or soup pot and cover 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.
With three claw feet and an artichoke finial on the cover this pot has a continuous band of flowering tree peonies or camelias painted around the belly of the pot and on the cover which also has a foliate border painted in iron-red and sea-green. Stylized butterflies also form part of this design. The Meissen painter has followed the Chinese Imari style in the onglaze enamel design with the pattern akin to the so-called branch or Astmuster. The pot was once paired with a saucer and this popular type of vessel was used for serving restorative soups and broths to invalids.
Chinese porcelain production in the manufacturing center of Jingdezhen was thrown into disarray when civil unrest followed the fall of the Ming Dynasty to the Qing in 1644. The Dutch East India Company turned to Japan where the production of exceptionally fine porcelain was well received in Europe. The Chinese re-entered the export market in the late seventeenth century and by the early 1700s Chinese porcelain painters were imitating Japanese Imari wares for the European and Asiatic trade. With a much smaller manufacturing base Japan could not compete when China began to produce imitations of Japanese Imari wares for which there was a high demand in Europe. By the middle of the eighteenth century Japanese porcelains were no longer competitive in quantity or price.
Original Japanese Imari collected by the European aristocracy was much admired for its opulent decorative style. When no longer imported to Europe imitations of the Imari style gained wider popularity later in the eighteenth century, most notably in the products of the English Worcester and Derby porcelain manufactories. Royal Crown Derby continues to produce a derivative pattern called Traditional Imari today.
For a detailed account of the Imari style see Ayers, J., Impey, O., Mallet, J.V.G., 1990, Porcelain for Palaces: the fashion for Japan in Europe 1650-1750. See also: Rotondo-McCord, L., 1997, Imari: Japanese Porcelain for European Palaces: The Freda and Ralph Lupin Collection; Goro Shimura, 2008, The Story of Imari: the Symbols and Mysteries of antique Japanese Porcelain; Takeshi Nagataki, 2003, Classic Japanese Porcelain: Imari and Kakiemon
For more information on this type of vessel see Weber, J., 2013, Meissener Porzellane mit Dekoren nach ostasiatischen Vorbildern: Stiftung Ernst Schneider in Schloss Lustheim, Band II, S. 201-203.
Jefferson Miller II, J., Rückert, R., Syz, H., 1979, Catalogue of the Hans Syz Collection, pp. 212-213.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
ca 1730
Meissen Manufactory
place made
Germany: Saxony, Meissen
Physical Description
hard-paste porcelain (overall material)
polychrome enamels and gold (overall color)
Imari (overall style)
overall: 5 1/8 in; 13.0175 cm
overall: 5 1/4 in x 5 5/16 in x 4 1/4 in; 13.335 cm x 13.5255 cm x 10.795 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