Inset: An Italian Comedy Group read the latest Blog story below.
The V & A museum in South Kensington in London is renowned for having the largest and finest collection of decorative arts found in any museum worldwide. If you have a passion for the collecting or buying and selling then a visit to the museum is a must. This is why the V & A is The Meissen Man’s favourite museum. Every floor has an exhibit of interest that waters his mouth as he gets emotionally connected to so many varied rarities some of which are unique to the museum.
For The Meissen Man the moment he walks into the main ceramic gallery where the Meissen Porcelain is on display he just stops almost feeling emotionally distraught wondering what cabinet he should advance to first as his eyes are confronted by wall to ceiling display cabinets. Each filled to the brim with ceramics from all corners of the globe. It is therefore not surprising the museum is recognised for its unparalleled collection.
While the majority of the Meissen is displayed in one gargantuan cabinet there are two display cabinets opposite that house a selection which includes the very rarest and most impressive items.
Here is an armada of Meissen. Literally thousands of figures; groups, table and service wares from common examples are sitting next to an army of rarities. Only the expert collector and specialist can distinguish between the rarest and most valuable from the more common and least collectable item. However for the novice who wishes to explore the huge variety of Meissen the display is a great starting point. Please note what you see here is only a fraction of the overall collection stored at the V & A.
In the large display you are confronted by Meissen Parrots and other birds and horses. Another shelf Meissen tradesman and merchants. Then there is the shelf of classical and other themed figures. But this is just getting a glimpse into the depth of the display cabinets from one side. As you turn the corner the first plate you will see is an early Meissen Plate from the 1730’s after a Japanese design made in the port of Arita painted predominately in the red and blue palette with two birds on a white ground cartouche. Sitting at the front of the seven dinner plate row is a Bottger porcelain plate with Hausmalerai decoration decorated by an Augsburg Silversmith. In the adjoining display other dinner plates are lined up while on the shelves above are larger serving wares.
What you have primarily been seeing is a visual display strongly representative of the display at the Zwinger in Dresden and Meissen Manufactory Museum.
Each of the following videos below has its own merits as The Meissen Man proceeds to explain. He will point out from the common to the rare to the extraordinary in all categories be it service wares, vases or figures and groups.
The Meissen Man has spent many hours accumulating his collection of videos and can point out particular items of interest. Italian Comedy seen in the videos below are amongst the rarest of all of Kaendler’s porcelain masterpieces.
Back in the 1740’s only important members of the aristocracy or merchants could afford to own a figure or a group of the Italian Comedy or any other of Kaendler’s finest models. These high quality and expensive pieces were in great demand. They were made for display only in order to impress upon a person’s wealth.
Main Meissen Porcelain Display Cabinet
Each item The Meissen Man walks past he is looking at several items rows deep of coffee pots and milk jugs with covers; beaker Bottger Redware flasks and relatively ordinary cups and saucers sit side by side. As the camera looks upwards there is a birds eye view of the differences in the look of the cross swords mark.
A sign advertises Germany and Austria; but the truth be known the majority of the items on display are Meissen.
2.18 minutes into the video is a view as though what is being seen in a market where the many are attending, tradesmen and women as well as romantic and classical figures and groups of all shapes and sizes. In the background sitting ominously are a rare pair of Lion and Lioness groups almost as though they ware watching and waiting to choose their next victim.
2.40 mins is seen a rare Bottger Redware bust of a child next to an oriental lady that sits next to a number of Criers and tradesmen.
Its only after a further two minutes spent having a second look at such a large quantity of figures that the camera moves downwards towards the ground where other manufacturers items are included including biscuit porcelain; an outstretched figure of Jesus Christ and a polychrome pagoda that is possibly Vienna.
5.00 mins in to the video and you are looking at a multitude of tea caddies of all shapes and forms, teapots of many different themes and decoration, sugar boxes dating back to the early 1720’s; tea-bowls and cups and saucers; the list of porcelain objects almost becomes endless.
While this mammoth sized cabinet has given you a taste of its extraordinary collection these videos include
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.
Next on the list is some of the serious rarities.
This video may begin like the last one. However the object of this video is to illustrate the overwhelming interest from prospective customers. Simply there were more demands made for new orders than the management could handle.
One way round this problem was to invite gold and silversmiths to paint on the natural white porcelain. Today these wares are known as Hausmalerai. However some pieces left the Manufactory undecorated were transported to Holland and decorated in Holland and where they were known as Dutch Decorated.
In the videos below The Meissen Man takes you around to the older and more original display cases where items are more spaced out and therefore where it is easier to appreciate their finer points.
The beginning of the video begins with a shot of two shelves. The top shelf illustrates an Oriental Design Dinner Plate with dragons round the rim next to two chargers one very large with the coat of arms of …… and a charger belonging to Count Bruhl’s swan service.
On the next shelf down sits at Höroldt period Tea Pot, saucer and sugar box. Immediately behind is a Meissen copy of a Kakiemon dish illustrating the ‘Shiba Onko’ pattern depicting the eponymous figure throwing a stone at a fish bowl to save a friend from drowning. Moving back up a shelf is seen a very rare Augustus Rex covered Jar after Japanese Kakiemon floral type design. The type of Meissen that is rarely seen outside of Museums but from time to time find their way into the auction salesrooms; many are invariably damaged or restored. Sitting to the right is a covered Bottger porcelain vase decorated with raised leaves, branches and bugs.
When the camera looks deeper into the display you begin to realise the exhibition of Meissen is so huge that even amongst these many thousands of items there are great rarities. Six oval sugar boxes and covers lie from one side of the display to the other. Each a rarity in its own right. Just too many for the department to display individually.
The camera then zooms on three more special pieces; a coffee pot, Rectangular tea caddy and teapot all with an unusual Chinese style painting. What makes these special is the subtleness of the decoration not the usual crowdedness that you might see on much of Meissen porcelain dating from the mid 1730’s. At the end of the display is a Marcolini Solitaire set on a tray circa 1790.
Looking immediately at the shelf below you might be thinking looking at all the different coloured cups and saucers is getting too much to see at all once. But this is more to get an appreciation and understanding of the huge output the Meissen Manufactory put out during the first 50 years of its inception.
The Meissen Man now takes you back quickly glimpsing at the main wall cabinets focusing on a large group of a Meissen Chinaman sitting on a rocky mountain some 40 cm high; not easily seen through the reflective glass(modern display cabinets mostly have non reflective glass). This example is one of the rarest of its type ever made circa 1720. The majority of the rarest are probably bequeathed to the museum.
While the best place to learn about Meissen is either a specialist dealer or auction salesroom the timing might not be right to learn about items as rare as Bottger stoneware and porcelain. Therefore you only alternative is a museum. The trouble with museum’s unless they have a study day enabling you to handle pieces you have little choice other than look behind display cases.
While there is some reflection these first three items in the left side of the display cabinet are prime examples of Bottger item no’s 14-16. The teapot Redware with an unusual faceted design; a polished redware flask behind and 2nd teapot no15; has the unusual painted multicoloured raised floral work. In the earliest of examples it can be the most subtle of differences that can determine rarity or value even with the rarest of items.
The video continues with; no 18, a white Bottger porcelain raised floral teapot decorated with bugs held by an intertwined handle. Item no 17 is a rare earthenware tea bowl and saucer with gold leaf floral decoration circa 1710-15.
There more fine and rare examples of Bottger porcelain are seen NO 19; a beaker and saucer. No 20 An extremely rare rectangular ‘Saki Bottle with raised decoration of a lady with a spear(most often the decoration is plainly floral). Figural decoration is very rare. No 21 A double handled raised floral decorated beaker and cover and a very early Bottger Porcelain Saki Bottle painted with a design after the Japanese Ceramic Maker Arita. Both the blue and white and white Saki Bottles would have been made from the same mould.
While Bottger died in 1719 his porcelain was to be used up to the early 1730’s. This included service wares painted by Johann Gregorius Höroldt; recognised as the master painter of porcelain who held a position in the Manufactory comparable to Kaendler’s modelling expertise. Although both resented each other’s position at the Manufactory.
The covered lidded vase and the white beaker to the left are both painted by Bottger. However, the Saki Bottle is an example of Bottger porcelain that was decorated in Holland. When you learn to compare an example painted in the factory and a similar example painted outside is when you can spot the differences. Models painted outside of the factory are known as Hausmalerai. But in the case of being painted in a foreign country is known by the country it was painted in. You can find very rare items painted in London or as far afield as China.
The two saucers, tea bowl and silver mounted tankard are painted by Horoldt. The rarest item on this shelf goes to the tea bowl and saucer that is painted in the Bottger Lustreware no 10. Not 11 and 12 are relatively average in comparison.
Just before the camera disappears off the shelf to the left is a Bottger redware rectangular coffee pot.
The larger the object is the more challenging it was for the Modeller to get right. Often the larger pieces would have defects in one way or other; normally a firing crack while other pieces have survived the kiln and come out perfect. The vases on the top shelf are the serious rarities that rarely come onto the marketplace. When they do they are invariably restored. The lidded Vase in the Japanese Kakiemon pattern no 17 will have the AR mark. The Blue and White vase that would have originally come with a cover is retrospectively speaking rarer than the coloured example to its left. Blue and white during this period was a very difficult colour to paint and fire on the porcelain. Even today when it comes to restoring blue and white, even the most talented restorer will find accurate painting to replicate the original very challenging because blue and white changes colour in the light.
The camera goes back down to the lower shelf where we see four more pieces of Bottger. A Sepia and white beaker; an Octagonal polished redware teapot; an extremely rare blue and white decorated Octagonal saucer and no 6 a copy of a Chinese Ming Blan de Chine Kendi(wine pot).
Getting down to the lower shelf we leave the world of Meissen momentarily. These three large pieces; the two soup tureens and the Unusual shaped object to the right that looks like a tall rectangular jar. These three items were made by 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 to set up his own manufactory early on in Vienna 1719. However Du Paquier only survived for 25 years. During this period only a handful of pieces were made compared to Meissen. Luckily for Meissen Du Paquier was never considered a threat to the secret of the Arcanum(the invention of hard paste porcelain).
Occasionally pieces that do come up for sale at auction will be written into the description. Bottger or DuPaquier as it can be very difficult to establish between either Bottger porcelain or Du Paquier.
When production of porcelain first began the majority of items would be copied from Chinese and Japanese Designs. The following video illustrates items made in the Kakiemon style after the Japanese originals that would have been made at end of the seventeenth century in Arita Japan. These Kakiemon porcelains were considered the most important of Japanese porcelain wares. Each made with multicolour designs predominately floral and sometimes seen with exotic birds and animals. Designs were influenced by visiting Dutch traders looking for wares that would attract the European Markets. The examples in this video represent some of the finest copies that Meissen produced. Particularly the hexagonal Jar and Cover also known as the ‘Hampton Court Jars’, King William and Queen Mary owned several of these while they lived at Hampton Court, hence the nickname. Like much of these early Meissen wares produced circa 1730; it was only important aristocratic families who could either afford them or might have been given them as a gift by Augustus the Strong who built up collections.
When watching this short video it is best to pause the video to inspect the items; all early Meissen made unto circa 1730 in the style of the Japanese Kakiemon designs.
The Hausmalerai in the Outside Decorated display
The first minute of this video is a quick overview of the items described in the fir three videos. From one minute in the theme changes. All the items on this shelf were painted by outside decorators (Hausmalerai). Hausmaler’s aredecorators who were invited to paint on Meissen Porcelain and have a distinct look when compared to in house painted pieces. Seen amongst this display ar Seuter, Pressnitz, Metusch including the outside decorator; the silversmith Ignaz Preissler who decorated much of Bottger porcelain in silver and gilt.There is a part list of the names of these decorators to the right of the display cabinet.
An Italian Comedy Group and a Crinoline Figure
In this video The Meissen Man takes a long look at one of Kaendler’s finest creations; a particularly well painted group of the Italian Comedia D’Arte Actor and actress Pantaloone and Columbine. circa 1742. The other figure is another theme Kaendler is known for the Crinoline figures circa 1745.