Meissen is renowned as the dominant European porcelain factory of the first half of the 18th century. It was founded in 1710 at Albrechtsburg Castle, on the Elbe river, two years after the first synthesis of hard-paste porcelain within Europe, by Ehrenfried Walther von Tschirnhaus and his assistant, Johann Friedrich Böttger. Producing porcelain was not independently replicated on the continent for over than fifty years, allowing Meissen to become the leading manufacturer of the material until the Seven Years War in 1757.
Meissen’s strong, hard-paste porcelain was seen as the ‘most perfect expression of the late Baroque and Rococo styles,’ in its ability to render the fleeting, flame-like movements and frivolous compositions of the 18th century. From 1774, under the direction of Count Camillo Marcolini, Meissen followed the examples of other manufacturers in adopting the Neoclassical style. Meissen’s vases also emulated those of Wedgwood’s Jasperware in their use of geometric forms, intaglio decoration, foliage borders and large areas of gilding.
During the 19th century, Meissen continued echoing contemporaneous European forms, from the Empire style during the Biedermeyer period (1815-40), to the revival of the Rococo, under the factory’s chief modeller Ernst August Leuteritz. Through the Fin-de-Siècle and Belle Époque periods, this revivalism of Meissen’s most lucrative style, as originally modelled by the famous Johann Joachim Kändler (‘modelmaster’ from 1733), continued up until the Post-War period.
This March’s Belle Epoche auction in Edinburgh features several exceptional dinner, tea and coffee services including ‘Deutsche Blumen’ and ‘Indian Pink’ alongside figures of parrots, men and women.