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Meissen Porcelain Factory

Meissen was the leading porcelain manufacturer in Europe during the first half of the 18th century. The Royal Collection contains examples of Meissen full servicesfigurines, and curiosities such as a porcelain flute and a walking stick handle.

Augustus the Strong (1670–1733), Elector of Saxony, founded a court porcelain factory at Meissen near his capital, Dresden. His desire to emulate the porcelain of China resulted in the discovery of kaolin, which enabled him to make hard-paste porcelain. 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. This figure was reproduced many times in stoneware, white porcelain and a variety of colours. There are two variations of this model in the Royal Collection. For its tea-wares, the Meissen factory relied heavily on Chinese porcelain shapes and decorative motifs. The tea bowls in particular were drawn directly from Chinese examples. This tea and coffee service can be compared to the Chinese porcelain service seen in Laroon's Musical Tea Party.

As the Meissen factory grew, artists began to introduce European motifs of decorations to these Chinese forms. Landscape and harbour scenes derived from seventeenth century French and Dutch paintings as well as English flower paintings and hunting and genre scenes became more common. This full tea service, for example, combines European scenes with a delicate turquoise-green ground which may have been intended to resemble Chinese celadon porcelain.

George II (1683–1760) owned a quantity of Meissen for his personal use in Hanover. On his visit in 1743 he purchased a 24-piece table service, probably used for the first time at the marriage ceremony of Princess Louise to Frederick, Crown Prince of Denmark. Frederick Prince of Wales (1707–51) made a large purchase of Meissen porcelain through Baron Adam Adolf d'Utterodt, who was the Saxon envoy to the British court between April 1739 and November 1742.

Meissen porcelain dominated European porcelain production until the late 1750s when the Seven Years' War caused production to cease momentarily. The Meissen factory exists today and continues to manufacture porcelain.


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