The Collection

  - Drinking bowl and saucer

Drinking bowl and saucer
Drinking bowl and saucer
Böttger porcelain, Meissen, before 1720

Decorated with monochrome chinoiserie scenes in iron-red by Ignaz Preissler (Friedrichswalde 1676–1741 Kronstadt), c. 1725
H. (bowl) 4.8 cm (1⅞ in.), Ø (saucer) 11.5 cm (4½ in.)
For comparison
New York, Arnhold Collection (published in Cassidy-Geiger  2008, p.  626, cat. no. 315); Prague, Museum of Applied Arts (published in Brožková  2009, p.  207, cat. no.  93 and p.  212, cat. no.  98).

Literature
Müller-Hofstede  1983; Cassidy-Geiger  1987; Brožková  2009.

Both the slightly bulbous bowl and the deep-welled saucer stand on high foot rings and bear monochrome painting in iron-red tones extending over the entire decorated surface. The scenes, which were painted on these Böttger porcelain pieces by the Hausmaler Ignaz Preissler, show foreign-looking figures in landscapes stretching away into the distance featuring pieces of Asian-styled architecture, large rocky outcrops, and exotic vegetation. While the occasion depicted on the saucer is a meal, that on the bowl is an audience, in which the pair of figures being received was taken with slight modifications by Preissler from an engraving in the series entitled and published in Nuremberg by Johann Christoph Weigel the Younger (Redwitz  1654–1726  Nuremberg). Preissler, son of the glass-painter Daniel Preissler (1636–1733  Kronstadt), was christened in 1676 in Friedrichswalde, Silesia. In 1680 the Preisslers moved to Kronstadt, Bohemia, where Ignaz served his first apprenticeship as a glass-painter. Although no reliable sources exist for the first forty years of his life, Kronstadt was presumably also his point of departure when he set off as a journeyman on his years of wayfaring through Germany and other parts of Europe. The first archival reference to Ignaz Preissler dates from 1723 and came from the Breslau doctor and chronicler Johann Christian Kundmann (Breslau  1684–1751  Breslau), who in 1726 also reported on Preissler working for a period of seven years for Dr  Ernst Benjamin von Löwenstädt, Edler von Ronneburg (d.  1729), likewise of Breslau. The evidence from Kundmann’s hand has often been understood as showing that when Preissler was working for Löwenstädt, he must also have been resident in Breslau. This supposition, however, has been challenged in a Preissler monograph of 2009 by Helena Brožková, who on the basis of correspondence between Preissler and Tobias Hanusch of Reichenau has contended that Preissler could still have worked for a collector in Breslau even if he was still resident in Kronstadt. Whatever the case, letters and bills published in 1924 by F.X.  Jiŕik in the curators’ report of the Museum of Applied Arts in Prague show for certain that from 1729 Ignaz Preissler was employed in Kronstadt by the Polish count Franz Karl Kolowrat-Liebsteinsky (1684–1753), for whom he decorated porcelain and glass “with Indian grotesques in red with gold”, underglaze-blue-rimmed porcelain “with Indian landscapes in black and gold”,and other pieces with “elaborate poetic motifs in black and gold”. Although it is unclear when Preissler completed the commissions for Count Kolowrat-Liebsteinsky, we do know that he received the last installment of his wages from his patron in December 1739 and died in 1741.

The extensive repertoire of motifs on the pieces attributed to Preissler – whether glass, Böttger porcelain, or porcelain – includes landscapes with staffage figures, marine scenes, European architecture, chinoiserie scenes set in exotic landscapes or surrounded with Laub- und Bandelwerk, Callot dwarves, equestrian battles, scenes from peasant life, Kauffahrtei scenes, figures and scenes from the commedia dell’arte, and allegorical or mythological depictions. Most of these motifs were doubtless taken from seventeenth- or early eighteenth-century prints, which must have been available to Preissler in considerable quantities. That this outstanding glass and porcelain painter’s work was highly esteemed and in demand outside Bohemia is shown by the inventory of the collection of Augustus the Strong bearing the title Inventarium über das Palais zu Alt-Dresden Anno 1721, which contains two items painted in Bohemia – N.7. and N.8. – that on the basis of their descriptions can hardly have been decorated by any painter other than Ignaz Preissler.

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