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Meissen tea caddy and cover

Meissen tea caddy and cover

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TITLE: Meissen tea caddy and cover (Hausmalerinnen)
MAKER: Meissen Manufactory
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: ceramic, porcelain, hard paste (overall material)
MEASUREMENTS: 4" 10.2 cm
OBJECT NAME: Tea caddy and cover
PLACE MADE: Meissen, Saxony, Germany
DATE MADE: 1717-1720
SUBJECT: The Hans Syz Collection
Domestic Furnishing
Industry and Manufacturing
CREDIT LINE: Hans C. Syz Collection
ID NUMBER: 1987.0896.38 a,b
(DATA SOURCE: National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center)
PURCHASED FROM: Hans E. Backer, London, England, 1947.
This tea caddy 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 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 tea caddy 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 like 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 even imprisoned them if Hausmalerei activity was suspected or discovered.
The tea caddy was painted in Augsburg in the 1730s, probably by Anna Elizabeth Wald (b.1696) and Sabina Hosennestel (b.1706), the daughters of gold worker and Hausmaler Johann Aufenwerth (d. 1728). Two hundred years earlier Augsburg was the center of international merchant banking, and it is no coincidence that it was also a center for goldsmith work of exceptional quality. Although no longer a powerful city in the eighteenth century, Augsburg was still renowned for its high quality artisan trades in precious metals, book production, and textiles. Hausmalerei was one among many subsidiary trades that met demands from other workshops, individual clients, and new manufactories like that of Meissen.
The tea caddy has a hexagonal baluster form and the arrowhead border on top of the cover is a device often seen in Augsburg Hausmalerei. The elaborate scrolled section below the chinoiseries of gentlemen smoking and taking tea, is characteristic of another Augsburg Hausmaler, Abraham Seuter (1689-1747), and may indicate cross influences between the two workshops. It is also possible that the source was a pattern book published by Jeremias Wolff of Augsburg with designs illustrated on early porcelain models from the Meissen manufactory and the DuPaquier manufactory in Vienna (see Cassidy-Geiger, M., “Graphic Sources for Meissen Porcelain: Origins of the Print Collection in the Meissen Archives” Metropolitan Museum Journal, Vol 31(1996) pp.99-126).
On the Augsburg Hausmaler and Hausmalerinnen see Ducret, S., 1971, Meissner Porzellan bemalt in Augsburg, 1718 bis um 1750, Band 1 Goldmalereien und bunte Chinoiserien.
On Hausmaler see Ulrich Pietsch, 2011, Early Meissen Porcelain: The Wark Collection from The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, pp. 43-46.
Hans Syz, J. Jefferson Miller II, Rainer Rückert, 1979, Catalogue of the Hans Syz Collection: Meissen Porcelain and Hausmalerei, pp. 508-509.
Currently not on view
Object Name
caddy, tea
date made
ca 1715-1720
Meissen Manufactory
place made
Germany: Saxony, Meissen
Physical Description
hard-paste porcelain (overall material)
polychrome enamel and gold (overall color)
Hausmaler chinoiserie (overall style)
overall: 4 in; 10.16 cm
overall: 4 in x 3 5/16 in x 3 in; 10.16 cm x 8.41375 cm x 7.62 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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