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Böttger porcelain, Meissen,c.1717–1719
Painted decoration by the Dresden goldsmith George Funcke (master in 1692, in the Meissen records until 1727)
Cup: H. 4.5 cm (1¾ in.), Ø 7.8 cm (3⅛ in.); saucer: Ø 12.1 cm (4¾ in.)
Dresden, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Porzellansammlung (two-handled beaker, published in exh. cat. Dresden 2010, p. 178, cat. no. 32); Leipzig, Museum für Kunsthandwerk (bowl and saucer, published in Gielke, Dieter . Meissener Porzellan des 18. Jahrhunderts: Bestandskatalog der Sammlung des Grassimuseums Leipzig, Museum für Kunsthandwerk. Leipzig, 2003., p. 90, cat. no. 23); New York, Arnhold Collection (teapot, published in Cassidy-Geiger, Maureen. The Arnold Collection of Meissen Porcelain 1710-50. London, 2008, p. 342, cat. no. 112).
The slightly swelling cup and deep-welled saucer in Böttger porcelain stand on high foot rings. Both these models have the lower part of the sides moulded with roundended fluting, which is decorated alternately with gold and Böttger lustre. The smooth sections of the sides above the fluting and the well of the saucer were decorated with a floral motif adopted from East Asian porcelain in enamel colours by George Funcke, in which gold-outlined Böttger lustre branches bearing multicoloured leaves, berries and flowers are seen growing out of stylized rocks. A delicate, regular gold border runs around the inside rim of the bowl and the saucer.
During the early period of Meissen porcelain production in particular, the forms of the vessels were created by copying available models, to be more specific, East Asian porcelain from the collection of Augustus the Strong (Dresden 1670–1733 Warsaw) or objects made by European gold- and silversmiths. While the present drinking vessel genuinely owes its form to the East Asian tradition, the fluting recalls vessels from the European repertoire.
The new vogue for tea-drinking, which was initially restricted to the more elevated social circles, required every such household be equipped with the appropriate table wares. As Böttger was in principle opposed to East Asian tea wares because of their inelegant form and strange decoration, the only wares he considered acceptable for this purpose were the “wares required for drinking tea, coffee, and chocolate” which “as a result of lengthy efforts they [he and others at Meissen] had learned to make in a fairly good manner.”1. The forms of the Meissen drinking bowls and saucers, far from being determined solely by aesthetic factors, were closely linked to a certain habit that had developed in the
context of the new habit of tea-drinking. To ensure that the hot beverage cooled more quickly, it was customary to pour it into the saucer, which thus had to be able ideally to accommodate the same volume of liquid as the bowl. This is graphically illustrated by a painting from the hand of Benedikt Beckenkamp (Ehrenbreitstein 1747–1828 Cologne) which shows the Archbishop-Elector of Trier Clemens Wenzeslaus of Saxony (Schloss Hubertusburg/Wermsdorf 1739–1812 Marktoberdorf/Allgäu) drinking tea with his sisters Maria Kunigunde (Warsaw 1740–1826 Dresden) and Maria Christina of Saxony (Warsaw 1735–1782 Brumath). While Maria Christina is still stirring her tea, Maria Kunigunde has already poured hers into her saucer, which she is holding between the thumb and index figure of her left hand.
1 Quoted from Ulrich Pietsch/ Claus Banz [ed.]. Triumph der blauen
Schwerter: Meissener Porzellan für Adel und Bürgertum 1710-1815, Dresden, 2010, p. 173, cat. no. 20.