December 20, 2011

Meissen, the earliest porcelain from Europe.

For our 2012 Exhibition, we have some exciting rarities, but none come close to this piece- one of the earliest pieces of porcelain from Europe it is possible to own.

It is Meissen, of a unique early body type developed by Böttger in the early 1710's. While not the absolute earliest body type, we can confidently date it to circa 1720.

The decoration, however, is not of Meissen type. This tooled gold (ie details are burnished in) Chinoiserie figural scene includes fountains, a drummer, a man with a teapot, and another holding out his teacup for him to fill. Beneath the scenes is a large scroll device, known as a Laub un Bandenwerk console. The border has thick gilt lines with scalloped edge supporting a series of dotted arcs and double chevron & dot motif. This border is a great clue to the origins of the decoration: the workshop of Bartholomäus Seuter, a Hausmalerei workshop in Augsburg. The bowl was sold in the white, and decorated just a few years later- let's say circa 1725.

Inside, there is a bird on a branch, another common motif of the Seuter workshop.

Underneath, there is no crossed swords mark, the piece is simply too early. The earliest marked Meissen dates to around 1730.
I was excited to see that there was a faint mark, very hard to make out, but definitely a capital letter in lustre, now faded away. Such letters are often seen on these early Meissen pieces.

There is a saucer also. Unfortunately, it has suffered some wear. It has a wonderful fluted band moulded in relief, which is also richly gilt. The decoration is very close to the teabowl, and definitely from the Seuter workshop, but slight variations suggest that the two have not always been together. What a rare chance, to put these two rare survivors together!
These came from the fabulous Byrnes Family Trust collection, sold in London a few years ago for well over a million pounds.
They will be released for sale as part of our 2012 Exhibition, to be held in our Geelong premises late February 2012.

Join our newsletter list to be notified closer to the time.