Meissen teapot and cover (Hausmaler)

Meissen teapot and cover (Hausmaler)

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TITLE: Meissen teapot and cover (Hausmaler)
MAKER: Meissen Manufactory
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: ceramic, porcelain, hard paste (overall material)
MEASUREMENTS: 5¾" 14.6 cm
OBJECT NAME: Teapot and cover
PLACE MADE: Meissen, Saxony, Germany
DATE MADE: 1715-1720 Meissen
SUBJECT: The Hans Syz Collection
Domestic Furnishing
Industry and Manufacturing
CREDIT LINE: Hans C. Syz Collection
ID NUMBER: 1979.0120.09 a,b
(DATA SOURCE: National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center)
PURCHASED FROM: Adolf Beckhardt, The Art Exchange, New York, 1941.
This teapot is from the Smithsonian’s Hans Syz Collection of European 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 teapot 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. 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.
Franz Ferdinand Mayer (b. ca. 1727), active in Pressnitz (now Přísečnice in the Czech Republic) in the mid-eighteenth century, was a conventional painter, and probably ran a Hausmaler workshop as a sideline to his main occupation. The teapot has enamel color paintings after two allegorical engravings by the painter and engraver Gottfried Bernhard Göz (1708-1774). On one side we see the sense of taste as a young man raises a glass of wine while his female companion eats fruit. On the other side the sense of sight is depicted by a young woman admiring a portrait of a gentleman while a Harlequin is ready to mock from behind. The original series of four prints reveals a sharper and darker allegorical wit than the images on the teapot. Flowers painted in the style of woodcut prints of an earlier period, the so-called Holzschnittblumen and ‘shadowed’ insects appear on the cover.
Ducret, S., 1973, Keramik und graphik des 18. Jahrhunderts: Vorlagen für Maler und Modelleure, pp.141-144. See a plate with the same subject illustrated in Le Corbeiller, C., "German Porcelain of the Eighteenth Century" in The Metropolitan Museum Bulletin, Spring 1990, Vol. XLVII No. 4, p. 33.
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.536-537.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
Meissen Manufactory
place made
Germany: Saxony, Meissen
Physical Description
hard-paste porcelain (overall material)
polychrome enamel and gold (overall color)
Hausmaler allegorical subject (overall style)
overall: 5 3/4 in; 14.605 cm
overall: 5 13/16 in x 7 1/8 in x 5 in; 14.76375 cm x 18.0975 cm x 12.7 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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