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Meissen China

Thursday, 16 July 2009

meissen chinaThe year 1709 was the time which marked the birth of Meissen China as one of the very important commercial and scientific aims of the past 300 years. These ambitions lead Johann Friedrich Böttger to discover hard-paste white European porcelain.

Meissen porcelain with its logo of crossed swords was set out to conquer the whole of Europe and the world. All Meissen china is painted by hand as it was all the time. The paint is mixed by the ancient formula and by Meissen there are over 10 000 tints available. Currently all works of art seem to be replica of tableware and figures of old times and Meissen manufacture approximately 175 000 types of china items. Let's go back to the some piece of history.

In 1707 in the city of Meissen the pharmacist and the alchemist Böttger managed to discover the secret of hard porcelain, as well as the process of ceramics and glaze firing. Primarily, Johann Friedrich Böttger, under the patronage of King Augustus the Strong, was to get gold from cheaper materials. When he failed to do that, Augustus allowed Böttger conduct his own investigations to get china of high quality under supervision of the scientist Ehrenfried Walther von Tschirnhaus. Augustus the Strong immediately recognized that the "white gold" was of almost the same value as genuine gold.

In 1708 Böttger reported the discovery of good white porcelain and in 1710 the Meissen Royal Manufactory was based in Meissen, where the best porcelain in Europe was made within 300 years. When the porcelain disseminated in Europe, it attracted attention of the most legendary and richest people of the world. The nobles had their tables served with German china that resembled Chinese porcelain that time.

Meissen Royal Manufactory activity has undergone three significant stages. First stage refers to the time of foundation when porcelain was predominantly examined, new paints created, thus came the time by the alchemist Böttger up to 1722. The second stage, «pictorial», refers to manufacture of painted tableware and decorative vases, thus the time by the painter Johan Gregorius Höroldt from 1722 to 1733. A specialist in the chemistry of color, he developed approximately ten thousand brilliant, verifiable pigments. These pigments are still in use today for decorating Meissen porcelain. The third stage, «sculptural» within 1735 to 1760 when big sculptures were manufactured followed by the time of small figures, the time by the sculptor Johann Joachim Kaendler, a particularly skilled sculptor, who developed the many sculptures, figures and tableware sets that have endure in charm for nearly 300 years. «Pictorial» and «sculptural» stages of porcelain manufacture are commonly seen in replica works and are highly valued in ancient works of art. They were followed by many personalities who either copied their own works either replicated the works by other porcelain manufactures (during the crisis period).

«Pictorial» period is distinguished with vivid paints and plenty of Chinese motifs. Porcelain was primarily considered as the Oriental beauty. «Golden Chinese people», «Red-and-golden Dragons» and exotic flora and fauna things and scenes from Chinese life.

During the time of Johann Joachim Kaendler the porcelain was not considered the exotic material any longer, therefore during late 1720 and early 1730 Kirhner and Kaendler created the whole line of big size sculpture of saint people and animals. The project, however, failed since during the process of abundant porcelain firing, the material would sink, deformed and cracked, that was the end of this project and the manufacture was aimed at production of smaller figures. The most reputed designed figures of those times were later replicated by famous porcelain factories, like the series of «Italian comedians», «Monkey Capella», the court, artisans, merchants, peasants, soldiers, mythological characters, birds and animals, very complicated allegoric compositions and pastorals. In the late XVIII century the figures of healthy German kids won the popularity that were presented as Ancient Greek Gods, allegoric seasons, gardeners and wine-growers.

Currently wherever you go to buy Meissen porcelain, you get its replica. The difference in price is conditioned by the fact whenever the replica was made, in XIX or XX century. Yet, you may be confident that the porcelain you acquired dates some period back providing there is the analog in the museum that is dated referring to sources in writing.

Even if you fail to be a big china-hunter who will do a lot to acquire rarities by Meissen Manufacture, then anyway you will be satisfied to have modern porcelain items manufactured by old formula and design.

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