Meissen plate (Hausmaler)
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- Created Date
- ca 1725-1730
TITLE: Meissen plate (Hausmaler)
MAKER: Meissen Manufactory
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: ceramic, porcelain, hard paste (overall material)
MEASUREMENTS: D. 8¼" 21 cm
OBJECT NAME: Plate
PLACE MADE: Meissen, Saxony, Germany
DATE MADE: 1725-1730 Meissen
SUBJECT: The Hans Syz Collection
Industry and Manufacturing
CREDIT LINE: Hans C. Syz Collection
ID NUMBER: 1987.0896.43
COLLECTOR/ DONOR: 376
(DATA SOURCE: National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center)
MARKS: Crossed swords in underglaze blue.
PURCHASED FROM: Alice Sydnam, New York, 1943.
This plate is from the Smithsonian’s Hans Syz Collection of Meissen Porcelain. Dr. Syz (1894-1991) began his collection in the early years of World War II, when he purchased eighteenth-century Meissen table wares from the Art Exchange run by the New York dealer Adolf Beckhardt (1889-1962). Dr. Syz, a Swiss immigrant to the United States, collected Meissen porcelain while engaged in a professional career in psychiatry and the research of human behavior. He believed that cultural artifacts have an important role to play in enhancing our awareness and understanding of human creativity and its communication among peoples. His collection grew to represent this conviction.
The invention of Meissen porcelain, declared over three hundred years ago early in 1709, was a collective achievement that represents an early modern precursor to industrial chemistry and materials science. The porcelains we see in our museum collections, made in the small town of Meissen in Germany, were the result of an intense period of empirical research. Generally associated with artistic achievement of a high order, Meissen porcelain was also a technological achievement in the development of inorganic, non-metallic materials.
This plate was made in the Meissen manufactory but painted outside by an independent artist. Hausmalerei is a German word that means in literal translation ‘home painting’, and it refers to the practice of painting enamels and gold onto the surface of blank ceramics and glass in workshops outside the manufactory of origin. Beginning in the seventeenth century the work of the Hausmaler varied in quality from the outstanding workshops of Nuremberg, Augsburg, and Breslau (now Wroclaw in Poland), to the less skilled efforts of amateur artists. Early Meissen porcelain was sought after for this purpose. Hausmalerei was at first acceptable to the early porcelain manufactories like Meissen and Vienna, and Meissen sent blank porcelain to Augsburg workshops for decoration, but as the market became more competitive they tried to eradicate the practice. It was a temptation for Meissen porcelain painters to take on extra work as Hausmaler to augment their low pay, and the manufactory cautioned or imprisoned them if Hausmalerei activity was suspected or discovered.
The plate was painted in the mid-eighteenth century in the workshop of Franz Ferdinand Mayer (b. 1727) of Pressnitz (now Přísečnice in the Czech Republic). Mayer’s workshop specialized in the enamel painting of allegorical subjects, hunting scenes, landscapes and pastoral subjects as seen in this plate. He was a conventional painter, and Hausmalerei was a separate business in which Mayer himself and workshop employees likely completed part or all of the enamel painting for a commission. Bold and elaborate gold scrollwork is also characteristic of his workshop.
On Hausmaler see Ulrich Pietsch, 2011, Early Meissen Porcelain: The Wark Collection from The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, pp. 43-46; Pazaurek, G. E., 1925, Deutsche Fayence und Porzellan Hausmaler.
Hans Syz, J. Jefferson Miller II, Rainer Rückert,1979, Catalogue of the Hans Syz Collection: Meissen Porcelain and Hausmalerei, pp.540-541.
Currently not on view
- Meissen Manufactory
- Chicago citation style
- Meissen Manufactory. Meissen plate (Hausmaler). ca 1725-1730. Retrieved from the Digital Public Library of America, http://collections.si.edu/search/results.htm?q=record_ID%3Anmah_1406482&repo=DPLA. (Accessed October 18, 2019.)
- APA citation style
- Meissen Manufactory, (ca 1725-1730) Meissen plate (Hausmaler). Retrieved from the Digital Public Library of America, http://collections.si.edu/search/results.htm?q=record_ID%3Anmah_1406482&repo=DPLA
- MLA citation style
- Meissen Manufactory. Retrieved from the Digital Public Library of America <http://collections.si.edu/search/results.htm?q=record_ID%3Anmah_1406482&repo=DPLA>.