Meissen manufactory, German

Meissen manufactory, German

After the development of porcelain manufacturing techniques in Germany believed to rival those used in East Asia, Frederick-Augustus I, Elector of Saxony (also known as Augustus II, King of Poland and Augustus the Strong), founded the Meissen Porcelain Factory in June, 1710. The factory was first opened in the Albrechtsburg, a Late Gothic palace in Meissen, a town outside of Dresden, Germany. Michael Nehmitz was appointed as its first director and Johann Friedrich Böttger, one of the inventors of hard-paste porcelain, was appointed the factory’s first manager.
The first works made at Meissen were made of “Jaspisporzellan,” a brown stoneware, and Böttgerporzellan, a white porcelain, both invented by Böttger. Meissen’s works were initially designed and executed by artisans like court goldsmith Johann Jacob Irminger, sculptor and wood-carver Johann Benjamin Thomae, and sculptor Paul Heerman. These artists initially used techniques from their respective areas of expertise, but gradually developed porcelain-specific methods.
In 1717, Frederick-Augustus converted the Holländisches Palais in Dresden into a palace to house his collection of porcelain from the Meissen factory. The display of Frederick-Augustus’ porcelains proved popular among Europe’s elite and in 1727, the palace was remodeled and renamed the Japanisches Palais, with the purpose of providing a better location to house the Elector’s growing collection. The Meissen factory received large commissions for decorative pieces for the palace.
In 1720, color chemist and painter Johann Gregorius Höroldt was employed at the factory and began to develop a style of decoration at Meissen that closely emulated East Asian porcelain decoration. Höroldt’s painted scenes, inspired by East Asian culture, were known as “Höroldt chinoiseries.” Höroldt also emulated Indian artistic styles, using an Indian-inspired floral design known as indianische Blumen.
Throughout the eighteenth century, artists at Meissen, including Johann Joachim Kändler, executed commissions for tableware, decorative figures, vases, and other porcelain works. During his time at Meissen, Kändler was the first to create porcelain works in the style of the French Rococo. The factory worked to adjust to changing styles in Europe, from Rococo to Louis XVI to Neoclassicism.
In the nineteenth century, Meissen continued to evolve, adapting to the technological changes of the Industrial Revolution and moving to a new building in the Triebisch Valley. The factory’s popularity experienced a lull early in the century, but later found success by catering to patrons’ interest in floral designs and Romanticism.
In the early twentieth century, Meissen produced table services, vases, sculptures, and candlesticks in popular Jugendstil designs. In 1919, Jaspisporzellan was recreated (the original eighteenth-century formula having been lost) and renamed Böttgersteinzeug. This new formula was used to create animal and human figure sculptures and table services throughout the early twentieth century.
The factory was not damaged during the second World War and continued to produce works in the post-war period, first as a subsidiary of a Soviet company, then as a nationalized East German company.
In the later twentieth century, beginning in the 1960s, the factory’s most successful productions were those of the group Kollektiv Künstlerische Entwicklung, which included designer Ludwig Zepner, sculptor Peter Strang, and painters Heinz Werner, Rudi Stolle and Volkmar Breitschneider. With the goal of creating an updated, modern porcelain style, the group created popular table services based on industrial and floral designs.
The Staatliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Meissen is still located near the city of Meissen in a complex that includes a museum and demonstration workshop.

  • German
  • Meissen

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