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Meissen, c. 1733
Painted decoration presumably by Adam Friedrich von Löwenfinck (1714–1754)
Crossed swords mark in underglaze blue; former’s mark: cross with four dots for Andreas Schiefer (1690–1761). On the inside of the cover and on the underside of the vase: “N 91” in black paint (not, however, a Japanese Palace inventory number)
h. 43 cm
This egg-shaped vase with handles moulded as female mascaroons topped with plumes has a cylindrical neck with protruding lip and a domed cover with everted rim and pointed finial. It originally belonged to one of the garnitures of two covered and three beaker vases that the Meissen porcelain manufactory produced in large numbers from 1720 onwards, principally ordered by the Saxon elector and Polish king Augustus the Strong (1670–1733) for the Japanese Palace in Dresden. The plumed mascaroons derive from a design originally made by the Meissen modeller Johann Joachim Kaendler in August 1733 for the handles of a tureen. Kaendler’s work report for the said month contains the following entry: “Once again a completely new oval tureen, also with some decoration; in place of the handles are two female heads with plumes, while the cover has a perforated finial,” [Wiederum eine gantz neue ovale Derrine auch mit etwas Zieraten an Statt der Henckel befinden sich 2 Frauen Zimmer-Köpffgen mit Feder Büschen, oben auf der Decke ist auch ein durchbrochen Knopff] (see Pietsch 2002, p. 20). The green turquoise ground enclosing two quatrefoil reserves on the cover and vase respectively, was known in Meissen as the “Seladonfond.” It was developed by the painter Johann Gregorius Höroldt (1696–1775) around 1728 and was frequently used for porcelain vessels destined for Augustus the Strong’s porcelain palace. The present reserves, which were left white and contain indianische Blumen and birds, were inspired by the décors of Chinese famille verte porcelain from the Royal Collection. The magnificently colourful floral arrangement features lotus flowers, asters, chrysanthemums peonies, a single passion flower, and birds perched upon the branches. Along with Johann Ehrenfried Stadler (1701–1741), Adam Friedrich von Löwenfinck (1714–1754) was one of the outstanding flower painters working in Höroldt’s workshop at the Meissen manufactory. After leaving Meissen in 1736, Löwenfinck earned his living at various German faience manufactories including Bayreuth, Ansbach, Fulda, and Höchst. As he painted similar floral décors featuring exotic birds at Bayreuth and Fulda, it is possible to be reasonably sure that the decoration on this Meissen covered vase also came from his hand.
An unusually bold and sophisticated feature of this vase is the frieze of stylised indianische Blumen seen between bands of gilding on the neck. In spite of the rich decoration with its multi-coloured treatment of the plumed mascaroons and—to modern eyes—daring colour combinations, the décor possesses an overall balance and does not seem in the least overdone. The artistic mastery inherent in this piece therefore lies not merely in the first-class craftsmanship that went into its making but also in the fine feeling for colour matches and combinations exercised by its gifted decorator.
Two vases of the same shape and size and with very similar painted decoration, though without the green turquoise ground, are preserved in the Dresden Porcelain Collection, inv. nos. PE 1899 and PE 2000.
Pietsch, Ulrich. Die Arbeitsberichte des Meissener Porzellanmodelleurs Johann Joachim Kaendler 1706–1775. Leipzig, 2002.
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