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Meissen Porcelain Factory

Augustus II, ‘the Strong’, of Poland and Elector of Saxony (1670-1733) c. 1720

Hard-paste porcelain | 12.5 x 6.5 x 5.7 cm (whole object) | RCIN 39958

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  • A hard-paste standing figure of Augustus the Strong holding a scroll in his right hand. He stands with his left hand on his hip and his left leg forward whilst wearing a laurel wreath, silver armour and a voluminous purple cloak, sword at his waist. The figure has a hexagonal base decorated with gilt lines.

    Unlike in England, the quest in Saxony to discover the secret 'alchemy' of porcelain production was driven by royal patronage. Augustus II was an avid collector of Asian ceramics and it was his interest in porcelain which provided the momentum for the founding of the Meissen factory, near Dresden, in the early eighteenth century. Augustus encouraged the alchemist, Johann Friedrich Böttger, and the scientist, Ehrenfried Walter von Tschirnhaus, and the first successful attempts to create a viable porcelain were announced in 1709. One of the earliest models to be made by the factory was a figure of their royal patron, Augustus the Strong, wearing armour and a laurel wreath. The figure was reproduced many times in stoneware, white porcelain and a variety of colours.

    Within a year of a patent being issued to establish the factory, Augustus was presenting Meissen porcelain as diplomatic gifts – the first example being sent to Frederick IV of Denmark in 1711. During the 1730s Augustus III (1696-1793) continued this tradition, sending gifts of Meissen to England in an attempt to gain support in the War of Polish Succession (1733-8). When George II visited Hanover in 1745, for example, his Prime Minister, Gerlach Adolf von Munchhausen (1688-1779), was presented with a Meissen service in gratitude, as it was under Munchhausen's direction that Hanover had been persuaded to make financial loans to Saxony, in opposition to Prussian and French interests.

    This pieces is attributed to Johann Friedrich Böttger as the main craftsman at the factory in its early years. He is thought to have modelled the original from which the version is taken.

    Text adapted from The First Georgians; Art and Monarchy 1714 - 1760, London, 2014.

    Possibly acquired by Queen Alexandra.

  • Medium and techniques

    Hard-paste porcelain


    12.5 x 6.5 x 5.7 cm (whole object)

  • Place of Production

    Saxony [Germany]