The Frick Collection
Goya's Last Works
 
Special Exhibition: The Arnhold Collection of Meissen Porcelain
 
:: The Japanese Palace of Augustus the Strong: Royal Ambition and Collecting Traditions in Dresden

:: The Arnhold Collection: From Dresden to New York

:: The Royal Porcelain Manufactory of Saxony,
c. 1710–13: “Red Porcelain” Production


:: The Royal Porcelain Manufactory of Saxony,
c. 1713–50: The New Medium, Court Culture, and European Tastes


:: The Royal Porcelain Manufactory of Saxony,
c. 1720-50: Chinoiserie Style, the Marchands- Merciers, and the Independent Decorators


The Arnhold Collection of Meissen Porcelain, 1710–50
March 25, 2008, through June 29, 2008

  Great Bustard, Meissen porcelain, 1732, Modeled by Johann Gottlieb Kirchner (1706??) Signed a. s. [for the former Andreas Schiefer (prob. 1690?1761)] Ex. Coll. August II, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, Japanese Palace, Dresden 1935.248. Photo: Maggie Nimkin
 

Great Bustard, Meissen porcelain, 1732, Modeled by Johann Gottlieb Kirchner (1706–?) Signed a. s. [for the former Andreas Schiefer (prob. 1690–1761)] Ex. Coll. August II, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, Japanese Palace, Dresden 1935.248. Photo: Maggie Nimkin

The Japanese Palace of Augustus the Strong: Royal Ambition and Collecting Traditions in Dresden

Although the recipe for manufacturing true porcelain was developed in China by the sixth century, it remained a mystery in the West until the discovery of the formula for creating high-temperature clays in 1708 by the alchemist Johann Friedrich Böttger (1682–1719) under the patronage of August II (1670–1733), Elector of Saxony and King of Poland. In 1710 the royal manufactory was officially founded within the walls of the Albrechtsburg castle in the town of Meissen, fifteen miles upriver from the Saxon capital city of Dresden. After nearly three hundred years of continuous operation, the products of this prestigious state industry are commonly known as “Meissen porcelain” by scholars and collectors alike.

Nicolas de Largillierre 1656?1746) Augustus the Strong, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland,  1714?15, oil on canvas, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri (Purchase: Nelson Trust)  
Nicolas de Largillierre 1656–1746)
Augustus the Strong, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland,
1714–15, oil on canvas, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri (Purchase: Nelson Trust)

 

Possessed of a legendary “maladie de porcelaine,” the king, who is better known as Augustus the Strong, had by 1719 amassed more than twenty thousand pieces of Chinese and Japanese porcelain for the decoration of the Japanese Palace, the small pleasure palace on the banks of the Elbe River that he acquired to showcase his vast holdings in Dutch-style porcelain rooms. Ten years later, the palace was rebuilt and extended to create a new set of state apartments where specially commissioned porcelain from the royal Meissen manufactory would reign supreme. Plans for the furnishing of the new building were abandoned by his son, however, who succeeded his father on the electoral throne of Poland in 1734. August III (1696–1763) left the direction of the manufactory in the capable hands of his ministers, Count Sulkowski and Count Brühl, who oversaw the development of porcelain table services and porcelain figures and expanded the use of Meissen porcelain as a diplomatic gift of such distinction it quickly attained the status of “white gold.” There was also a burgeoning market for luxury items and lesser wares, with the French marchands-merciers (luxury dealers) notably ordering customized products for their wealthy clientele besides creating a fashion for mounted Meissen figures.

  Pair of Vases, Meissen porcelain, c. 1725?30, Marked AR [Augustus Rex] 1993.291a,b. Photo: Maggie Nimkin
 

Pair of Vases, Meissen porcelain, c. 1725–30, Marked AR [Augustus Rex] 1993.291a,b. Photo: Maggie Nimkin

The thousands of pieces of Meissen porcelain produced for the furnishing of the Japanese Palace, including colorfully painted vases for the chimneypieces, extensive tablewares and tea, coffee, and chocolate services for wall arrangements, and a unique menagerie of life-size porcelain animals and birds for the Long Gallery went into storage until their redisplay in 1875 in the old royal picture gallery, the Johanneum. The Meissen and Asian porcelains and all the interior fittings and furnishings were periodically counted, resulting in three monumental inventories undertaken in 1721, 1770, and 1779. When the art treasures of Dresden were returned to the fire-bombed city by the Russians in the 1950s, the porcelain collection was installed in one of the wings of the famous Zwinger, the baroque orangerie commissioned by Augustus the Strong where the Porzellansammlung (Porcelain Collection) is found today.

The Arnhold Collection of Meissen Porcelain, 1710–50, was organized for The Frick Collection by Director Anne L. Poulet and Maureen Cassidy-Geiger, guest curator of the exhibition. It is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, published by The Frick Collection in association with D Giles Unlimited, London, available in mid-April in the Museum Shop and online at shopfrick.org.

The exhibition is made possible, in part, by the generous support of the Arnhold Foundation.

 

 

The Arnhold Collection of Meissen Porcelain, 1710-50 Teapot, Meissen porcelain, c. 1725– 30, decoration attributed to Ignaz Preissler, c. 1725–30; 2001.468, photo: Maggie Nimkin Teapot and Cover, Meissen porcelain; c. 1725-30; h: 15.2 cm, without cover, to tip of handle h: 13.7 cm; The Arnhold Collection; photo: Maggie Nimkin Stand, Meissen porcelain, c. 1730, 2001.435, photo: Maggie NimkinCoffee Pot with Cover, Meissen stoneware, c. 1710–13, engraving executed in Dresden or Bohemia, 2001.449 (photo: Maggie Nimkin)