March 14, 2012

In the beginning......

We're going back to the beginning for our 2012 Exhibition.
This is the earliest possible European porcelain..... from the first few years of the first porcelain factory in Europe, Meissen. The story began in 1709 with the alchemist, Bottger, stumbling across the correct formula for true porcelain, just like the Chinese had been making for hundreds of years......
By 1710, the first very small numbers of pieces of porcelain were on the market. Over the next decade, production gradually increased, but examples from this period are sensationally rare.
What I love about this piece is the decoration: at first glance it seems to be the prunus sprigs seen on late 17th century Chinese porcelain, so fashionable in Europe. However, it is not the prunus flowers - or leaves. Instead, it represents the tea plant - rather appropriate for the intended use of the piece. In this early period, tea was hugely expensive, and the ritual of tea taking only available to the very wealthy. The Meissen porcelain tea-plant porcelain was the perfect compliment.

Here's another early Meissen one with a story to tell.

This bowl is once again early, being the Böttger porcelain from around 1720. However, the decoration is not. While the factory did produce delightful gold chinoiserie silhouettes, these are different. They are in fact the work of a decorating workshop who bought the porcelain in the white and produced their own distinct style of chinoiseries - the Augsburg workshop of Bartholomäus Seuter, circa 1725. 

There is a saucer with it - a little worn on the front, but the back is spectacular, having high moulded ribs with gilt details.

All these exciting items can be seen in our 2012 catalogue.... download the full PDF here,
or have a preview of a few more items here.