Meissen teapot and cover
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- Created Date
- ca 1740-1750
TITLE: Meissen teapot and cover
MAKER: Meissen Manufactory
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: ceramic, porcelain (overall material)
MEASUREMENTS: 4⅛" 10.5cm
OBJECT NAME: Teapot
PLACE MADE: Meissen, Saxony, Germany
DATE MADE: 1740-1750
Industry and Manufacturing
CREDIT LINE: Hans C. Syz Collection
ID NUMBER: 1987.0896.05 ab
COLLECTOR/ DONOR: 1216 ab
(DATA SOURCE: National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center)
MARKS: Crossed swords in underglaze blue.
PURCHASED FROM: A. Neuberger, New York, 1962.
This teapot and cover 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 the German States, 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 teapot and cover with a wishbone handle and dragon spout is a later example of items reminiscent of the early Böttger porcelains admired for their raised ornament, and designed originally by the Dresden court goldsmith Johann Jacob Irminger (1635-1724), the so-called Irmingersche Belege. The applied grapevine (Wein-Laub) design seen on this teapot and cover was especially favored.
In the eighteenth century tea, coffee, and chocolate was served in the private apartments of aristocratic women, usually in the company of other women, but also with male admirers and intimates present. In affluent middle-class households tea and coffee drinking was often the occasion for an informal family gathering. Coffee houses were exclusively male establishments and operated as gathering places for a variety of purposes in the interests of commerce, politics, culture, and social pleasure.
For a similar example with a relief of Far Eastern flowering prunus branches, also much admired, see Pietsch, U., 2011, Early Meissen Porcelain: the Wark Collection from the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, p.451.
On the introduction of tea, coffee, and chocolate to European social and cultural life see Bowman, P.B., 1995, In Praise of Hot Liquors: The Study of Chocolate, Coffee and Tea-drinking 1600-1850; see also Weinberg, B.A., Bealer, B.K., 2002, The World of Caffeine: The Science and Culture of the World’s Most Popular Drug; on the history of tea see Ukers, W. H., 1935, All about Tea; on coffee houses see Ellis, M. 2011,The Coffee House: A Cultural History.
Hans Syz, J. Jefferson Miller II, Rainer Rückert, 1979, Catalogue of the Hans Syz Collection: Meissen Porcelain and Hausmalerei, pp. 274-275.
Currently not on view
- Meissen Manufactory
- Chicago citation style
- Meissen Manufactory. Meissen teapot and cover. ca 1740-1750. Retrieved from the Digital Public Library of America, http://collections.si.edu/search/results.htm?q=record_ID%3Anmah_1415441&repo=DPLA. (Accessed April 26, 2019.)
- APA citation style
- Meissen Manufactory, (ca 1740-1750) Meissen teapot and cover. Retrieved from the Digital Public Library of America, http://collections.si.edu/search/results.htm?q=record_ID%3Anmah_1415441&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_1415441&repo=DPLA>.