Meissen tea bowl (part of a service)
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- Created Date
- ca 1720-1725
TITLE: Meissen: Part of a tea service (Hausmalerin)
MAKER: Meissen Manufactory
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: ceramic, porcelain, hard paste (overall material)
MEASUREMENTS: Tea bowls: H. 1¾" 4.5 cm
Chocolate cup: 3⅛" 8 cm
Saucer: D. 5⅛" 13.1 cm
Teapot: H. 5" 12.8 cm
OBJECT NAME: Part of a tea service
PLACE MADE: Meissen, Saxony, Germany
DATE MADE: 1730
SUBJECT: The Hans Syz Collection
Industry and Manufacturing
CREDIT LINE: Hans C. Syz Collection
ID NUMBER: 1987.0896. 34 A,B; 36 a,b; 37 a,b
COLLECTOR/ DONOR: 227 A,B; 228 a,b; 229 a,b
(DATA SOURCE: National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center)
MARKS: Crossed swords in underglaze blue, except chocolate cup, which is unmarked.
PURCHASED FROM: Minerva Antiques, New York, 1943.
The tea bowls are from parts of a tea service in 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.
The parts from the tea service were 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, and wealthy patrons of local enameling and gilding workshops purchased undecorated porcelain, often of out-moded or inferior quality, which was then enameled with subjects of their choice. 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 even imprisoned them if Hausmalerei activity was suspected or discovered.
The tea service was painted in Augsburg in the 1720s.Two hundred years earlier Augsburg was the center of international merchant banking, and it is no coincidence that it was also a center for goldsmithing work of exceptional quality. Although no longer a powerful city in the eighteenth century, Augsburg was still renowned for its high quality artisan trades in precious metals, book production, and textiles. Hausmalerei was one among many subsidiary trades that met demands from other workshops, individual clients, and new manufactories like that of Meissen.
This Meissen tea service was probably painted by Anna Elizabeth Wald (b. 1696), and perhaps by her sister Sabina Hosennestel (1706-1782) as well. The two women were the daughters of the gold worker and Hausmaler Johann Aufenwerth (d.1728) but it is difficult to distinguish their styles one from the other. Another sister, Johanna Warmberger (1693-1772), also worked in the family business. The sisters specialized in decorative gilding and enamel painting of chinoiseries like the images seen here of two gentlemen smoking and taking tea in a garden.
Sabina Hosennestel married the tradesman and coffee-house owner, Isaac Hosennestel in 1731. It is thought that some of the porcelain vessels painted by the Aufenwerth sisters were intended for use in the coffee-house alongside Chinese and Japanese imported porcelain, especially the tea bowls. There were five other coffee-houses in Augsburg in the first half of the eighteenth century.
Other pieces from this service are in the Forsythe Wickes Collection, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (inv. Numbers 65.2076-65.2080).
Ducret, S., 1971, Meissner Porzellan bemalt in Augsburg, 1718 bis um 1750, Band 1 Goldmalereien und bunte Chinoiserien.
On Hausmaler see Ulrich Pietsch, 2011, Early Meissen Porcelain: The Wark Collection from The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, pp. 43-46.
Hans Syz, J. Jefferson Miller II, Rainer Rückert, 1979, Catalogue of the Hans Syz Collection: Meissen Porcelain and Hausmalerei, pp. 506-507.
Currently not on view
- Meissen Manufactory
- Chicago citation style
- Meissen Manufactory. Meissen tea bowl (part of a service). ca 1720-1725. Retrieved from the Digital Public Library of America, http://collections.si.edu/search/results.htm?q=record_ID%3Anmah_1406478&repo=DPLA. (Accessed August 26, 2019.)
- APA citation style
- Meissen Manufactory, (ca 1720-1725) Meissen tea bowl (part of a service). Retrieved from the Digital Public Library of America, http://collections.si.edu/search/results.htm?q=record_ID%3Anmah_1406478&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_1406478&repo=DPLA>.