A Faceted and polished Böttger stoneware teapot

Meissen, 1710–1714

No mark
H. 9.4 cm (3¾ in.), L. 16.3 cm (6½ in.)


This spherical teapot model with C-shaped handle, tubular spout and flat baluster-knobbed cover was designed, presumably after a silver model, by the celebrated Dresden silversmith Johann Jakob Irminger (1625-1724), who also worked for the Meissen manufactory. The exceptionally hard stoneware made at Meissen between 1710 and 1714 emerged from the firing with such a rough surface that its inventor, the director of the royal manufactory Johann Friedrich Böttger (1682–1719), was forced to collaborate with various external craftsmen on finding processes that would give the pieces a more beautiful and refined appearance. His most important assistance matter was given by Bohemian glass-engravers, who by wheel-polishing the surfaces gave the vessels a high shine that on porcelain can only be achieved by a transparent glaze. He was also inspired by the technique of faceting used in the crafting of ruby glass, in which the flat glass surface was given a honeycomb-like structure through the incision of sequences of hollows. However, while on glass the facets could be relatively easily incised with lead-covered cutting edges, this was not possible on the harder material of stoneware. Instead, therefore, the faceting was done before the firing on the unfired paste body, using a sharp modelling iron. The procedure demanded great skill, most notably because the pattern had to fit exactly at the repeat. After the firing the facets could be polished to a high shine just like the flat surfaces. On the present teapot the faceted pattern was also applied to the handle, the cover rim and the short neck, and the underside incised with a large rosette.

In the early period of the Meissen manufactory stoneware vessels were the only pieces offered for sale on the open market, though Böttger porcelain was exhibited at the Leipzig trade fairs and then offered for sale to the public after 1714. Augustus the Strong (1670–1733) held stoneware in such high esteem that it continued to be produced for him after 1714; furthermore, when Böttger died in 1719, many pieces from his estate passed into possession of the Saxon elector and Polish king, who integrated them into the collection at his porcelain palace, the Japanese Palace in Dresden, where they were presented together with the animal figures modelled by Johann Joachim Kaendler.

REF No. 701