Meissen Masterpieces

A Distinguished Private Collection of Important 19th Century Meissen Porcelain

 

Meissen porcelain, often referred to as ‘White Gold,’ has captivated collectors for centuries, embodying elegance and sophistication within each delicate form. We are proud to present a remarkable private collection showcasing some of the most extraordinary pieces crafted by the renowned Meissen porcelain factory at the close of the nineteenth century.

 

Meissen Porcelain

 

The production of Meissen porcelain began in 1710 at the manufactory at Meissen, near Dresden, under the patronage of Augustus the Strong of Saxony (1670-1733).

 

Augustus The Strong

Europeans in the 17th century were enamored with Chinese porcelain, highly prized for its white and translucent quality, and called it “White Gold.” Meissen became world-famous for discovering the recipe for pure white biscuit porcelain in Europe, attracting artists and establishing its signature logo of crossed swords in 1720, one of the oldest trademarks in existence. The discovery was made by alchemist Johann Friedrich Böttger, who, building on the work of scientist Ehrenfried Walther von Tschirnhaus, identified white kaolin as the key ingredient.

 

Illustration of the Meissen modelling studio in Albrechtsburg Castle, Meissen, just before the move to a dedicated factory (Source: Apollo Magazine © Schlösserland Sachsen).

Augustus the Strong moved the laboratory to Albrechtsburg Castle in Meissen and established the ‘Royal Polish and Electoral Saxon Porcelain Manufactory’ on June 6, 1710, intending to keep the recipe secret. Despite this, the recipe spread across Europe. By 1720, Augustus had built his ‘Japanese Palace’ to showcase his porcelain collection, including an ambitious but incomplete porcelain menagerie of nearly 600 life-size animals, modeled by Johann Joachim Kändler. After Augustus’s death in 1733, control of the factory shifted towards more commercially viable table services under Count Heinrich von Brühl. Kändler then created masterpieces like ‘The Swan Service’ and small decorative figures, inspired by court life and the Commedia dell’arte, becoming iconic of the rococo style.

 

Meissen Porcelain Manufactory, mid to late 19th century. ©Meissen Archive, Public Domain

Meissen remained dominant until the Seven Years War (1756-63) disrupted its operations, allowing other factories, particularly Sèvres in France, to rise. Post-war, Meissen adapted to neoclassical styles but never regained its former prestige. The late 18th and early 19th centuries saw challenges from tariffs and import bans. Production halted at Albrechtsburg Castle until Heinrich Gottlob Kühn’s leadership in 1814 brought technical advances and a new factory in 1861, reviving Meissen’s fortunes. By the late 19th century, Meissen saw a revival of Kändler rococo figurines and success at international exhibitions, cementing its legacy in porcelain art.

Read more about the history of the Meissen Porcelain

 

 

A Distinguished Private Collection of Important 19th Century Meissen Porcelain

 

At the heart of this collection stands a monumental Meissen porcelain figural group depicting Mount Parnasus, a breath-taking centrepiece that captures the essence of classical beauty and mythological grandeur, inviting viewers to immerse themselves in a world of gods and muses.

 

A Monumental Meissen Porcelain Figural Group of Mount Parnassus.

Meissen

A Monumental Porcelain Figural Group of Apollo and the Muses on Mount Parnassus

£195,000

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Mount Parnassus the mythical centre of poetry, music, and learning in ancient Greece was a popular theme in Barqoue and Rococo art, often substitutable with Athena’s arrival at Mount Helicon from the fifth book of Ovid’s “Metamorphoses”, where she asks the Muses to show her the new spring which gushed forth from the spot where Pegasus “with his hoof of horn opened the earth”, 

The Muses in Greek mythology are nine goddesses who embody and inspire the arts and sciences, .symbols of inspiration and the elevation of human culture through their divine influence. Each Muse presiding over a specific domain.

 

 

 

Continuing in the realm of mythology, we encounter a pair of figural groups portraying ‘Neptune and Thetis’ and ‘The Triumphal Procession of Amphitrite’. Modelled with unparalleled skill and imagination, these pieces enchant with their intricate detailing and narrative richness.

 

 

A Pair Of Meissen Porcelain Mythological Figural groups, of 'Neptune and Thetis' and 'The Triumphal Procession of Amphitrite.

Meissen

A Pair Of Porcelain Figural groups, of ‘Neptune and Thetis’ and ‘The Triumphal Procession of Amphitrite’

£60,000

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Accompanying these masterpieces are a rare pair of ‘Kriegselefant’, or Armoured War Elephants, evoking the grandeur and power of ancient warfare. These pieces not only showcase technical prowess but also offer a glimpse into the historical and cultural contexts of their creation.

 

 

A Pair Of Meissen Porcelain Groups of Kriegselefant (Armoured War Elephants).

Meissen

A Pair Of Meissen Porcelain Groups of Armoured War Elephants

£45,000

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Adding to the splendour are a pair of large pot-pourri vases and covers, formed as large bouquets applied with butterflies and insects. Unusually large and adorned with a sumptuous exuberance of flower-encrusted detail, they are truly magnificent and of exhibition quality.

 

 

A Pair Of Large Meissen Porcelain Flower-Encrusted Pot-Pourri Vases and Covers On Stands.

Meissen

A Pair Of Large Porcelain Pot-Pourri Vases and Covers On Stands

£0

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Each piece in this distinguished collection is not merely an object of beauty but a testament to the resurgence of Meissen porcelain in the second half of the nineteenth century. This ‘Second Rococo’ represents a convergence of artistic vision, technical virtuosity, and historical significance, offering collectors and connoisseurs alike an opportunity to appreciate the enduring legacy of Meissen.

 

 

 

 

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