This was my first visit since the V and A re arranged the Meissen Porcelain Cabinets. While the majority of the Meissen was displayed in this cabinet and two opposite, there are other display cabinets throughout the floor and particular items dotted around the museum illustrates the strengths of the stock of Meissen on display. I have visited many museums around the world and few museums have this quantity of ceramics on display other than that of courses at Meissen and the Zwinger at Dresden. But then of course so they should be superior in some respects. But why should they is a question you may ask. Because in the eighteenth century Much of the prized pieces that Augustus the Strong had Meissen make for himself and Count Bruhl who was put in charge of the management of Meissen who also collated a couple of thousand and more of figures groups and services. It was only after they decided who should get what that ‘lesser items’ were given away to other Royalty aristocracy and valuable trading merchants. From the end of the 19th century onwards well into the 20th century Meissen became very fashionable to be collected by the major collectors particularly in North America. However England has always been the main centre where every different types of Meissen from the 18th century found its way into the three major auction rooms in London; Bonhams, Christies and Sotheby’s and bought by many of the major collectors who eventually would bequeath their collections as well as single items to the museum.
It is there for not surprising to see so many different types of rare pieces of 18th century put together with lessor items. For the novice who visits the museum to see the collection of Meissen must be a daunting affair since they will be confronted with many hundreds of items squeezed onto shelves making them look as common as grocery sold in supermarkets. Yet this couldn’t be further from that situation. One is confronted by repetitive quantities of figures and groups including merchants, workmen, lovers , riders on horses, soldiers, miners, dancers, encrusted floral vases, criers of London and others, Comedy including Harlequin and Columbine, Parrots and other exotic birds by modellers including Kaendler, Reinike, Eberlain and a Bottger Bust that appears very much out of place. But then so is cramming so many items into such small spaces. it is as though there is so many items in the warehouses of the museum that every inch of space in the museum has already been accountable and there is no more available space to spread out the items not just Meissen so that visitors can appreciate the collections rather than be bamboozled.
Moving on to a higher shelve I am confronted b some of the slightly later figures made around or slightly later than 1750. Then in an adjacent cabinet I am confronted by service wares many of which date to the first twenty years of production. Many different designs too many to account for can be seen in the video, be it painted by Horoldt. Many example of Bottger porcelain- sugar boxes, bowls, teapots with figural designs of landscapes, harbours. Others in the styles of Chinese Imari, Japanese Kakiemon. Teapoys and tea Caddies with similar decoration but also including chinoiserie including Bottger stoneware examples. The items displayed in the white in the background are from other European countries. The another shelf full of tea bowls, cups and suacers, small shaped dishes and pots and examples of armorials. The list goes on and quite exhaustive. Not to mention a few examples from the one Manufactory that made a poor job at trying to compete with Meissen but running into financial difficulties albeit remaining a competitor Du Pacquier. Dupacquier was a Dutchman who resided in Vienna who managed to steal a couple of Meissen employees who brought with them the secret of making hard paste porcelain.