Pair of monkeys Johann Joachim Kaendler (1706 - 1775)

Meissen, c. 1750

Crossed swords mark in underglaze blue on bases at the back
H. 18 cm


These two figures of the monkeys known in the specialist literature as Rhesus macaques were conceived as a pair and were in all probability modelled around 1750 by the Meissen Modellmeister Johann Joachim Kaendler. However, this remains an attribution, as no detailed work reports have survived from this period.
In the years 1731 and 1732 Gottlieb Kirchner (b. 1706) and Johann Joachim Kaendler had modelled life-size monkeys for the Japanese Palace of Augustus the Strong (1670–1733) in Dresden, making their models from life after observation of animals in the royal menagerie at the castle of Moritzburg.
The small-size animals modelled by Kaendler after the death of the Polish king and Saxon elector, on the other hand, were made to be displayed on console tables, mantelpieces, and wall-brackets, or to decorate the dessert table in the place of the sugar paste figures previously used.

The two monkeys are seen squatting on a rock base decorated with applied elements in the form of coloured leaves and flowers, and leaning up against a tree stump sprouting oak leaves. In its right arm each one is holding up a white cloth containing fruit and attached to a strap around its shoulders. One monkey is showing us two of the fruits in his raised left hand, while the other, a female, has empty hands and one of her young snuggling up between her thighs. The young monkey has taken a fruit out of the cloth and is beginning to eat it. The other monkey making up the group, presumably a male, is, like the mother, wearing a belt, which in his case is attached to the rock with a heavy chain. The two large monkeys look out at us with curious eyes and raised heads. With their realistically painted coats and the natural posture typical of their species, they are clearly related to the monkeys of which Kaendler made studies at the royal menagerie.


Carl Albiker, Die Meissener Porzellantiere im 18. Jahrhundert, Berlin 1935, p. 69 and plate XLVII, pp. 208–11.

REF No. 796