The mystery of porcelain revealed in Meissen

"A secret to the whole world." The mystery of porcelain revealed in Meissen Interesting

Meissen, a small walled city on the banks of the Elbe, was the scene of one of the greatest artistic adventures in the West: the discovery of porcelain.

Coveted by the rulers of the time and coveted by all the nobility, Chinese porcelain was at the center of intense interest. Despite its high cost, the European elite were desperate to get it.

"A secret to the whole world." The mystery of porcelain revealed in Meissen

The new material gave a huge field for fantasies and the embodiment of the creative ideas of European masters. Meissen porcelain is a sea of ​​styles, forms, which need to be told separately, which I will do later.

And today - an interesting digression into the beginning of the history of Meissen porcelain!

"A secret to the whole world." The mystery of porcelain revealed in Meissen

Porcelain in general appeared only thanks to men! Our story about Meissen will begin with the same man who was an avid porcelain collector.

Elector August the Strong, embodied in porcelain

August the Strong and the birth of Meissen

The history of Meissen begins with the Saxon elector Augustus the Strong, who suffered from "porcelain diseaseand obsessively collected Chinese and Japanese porcelain, went so far as to exchange 600 of his soldiers of his sworn enemy, the King of Prussia, for a group of vases from China!

Porcelain collection in Orienbaum castle

A short digression into the history

Friedrich August was born in 1670. It was an iconic figure in German history. His personality symbolizes the Saxon "golden age", the splendor and luxury of the Dresden court and the heyday of Dresden itself, which became one of the cultural capitals of Europe under him.

Portrait of Augustus, Louis de Sylvester XNUMXth century. Source: de. wikipedia.org

August was distinguished by remarkable physical strength. The Elector of Saxony bent horseshoes with his hands and broke silver plates, for which he was nicknamed "Strong", "Saxon Hercules" and "Iron Hand". There were legends about him!

He became king of Poland with the help of the Russians, but betrayed them for the sake of a strong Sweden. Along the way, he changed women, produced bastards and tried to extract gold from lead.

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Golden Rider - Monument to Augustus, very much like the Bronze Horseman.

"A secret to the whole world." The mystery of porcelain revealed in Meissen

"A secret to the whole world." The mystery of porcelain revealed in Meissen

It is known that Peter I was fascinated by Augustus at their first meeting in Galicia. Upon his return to Moscow, Peter flaunted in a caftan and with the sword of Augustus, did not find words to praise his "incomparable friend", who later betrayed him, but! ... inback to china, dear readers!

August constantly paid for tests on the production of hard porcelain. Many experiments were carried out, but all tests eventually failed.

In 1708, August's explorers, the physicist Ehrenfried Walther von Tschirnhaus and the alchemist Johann Friedrich Böttger, were the first to obtain excellent experimental results.

"A secret to the whole world." The mystery of porcelain revealed in Meissen

"A secret to the whole world." The mystery of porcelain revealed in Meissen

"A secret to the whole world." The mystery of porcelain revealed in Meissen

The triumph was probably the result of the large amount of money Augustus invested in the project - he almost bankrupted the state in the process! Success was achieved thanks to the regular supply of kaolin, an essential ingredient for making hard porcelain from the rich mines in Saxony. Following this success, Augustus sent out a "press release" in seven different languages ​​saying that he now owns the porcelain industry on par with the Chinese emperor.

"A secret to the whole world." The mystery of porcelain revealed in Meissen

He donated precious china as a means of securing diplomatic alliances and representing the prestige of the court.

The inventors of porcelain were actually held captive to guard the hard-won secret of porcelain making. However, the recipe quickly spread throughout Europe, and by the 1750s, most self-respecting monarchs attempted to make porcelain on their own.

Funny Porcelain Animal Figurines:

"A secret to the whole world." The mystery of porcelain revealed in Meissen

"A secret to the whole world." The mystery of porcelain revealed in Meissen

"A secret to the whole world." The mystery of porcelain revealed in Meissen

While early European porcelain was influenced by Asian exports that arrived through diplomatic gifts and trade with Portugal and Holland, it is remarkable how, in just a few years, the Meissen manufactory developed its own language of expression in its elegant forms and intricate decoration.

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"A secret to the whole world." The mystery of porcelain revealed in Meissen

The two leading designers of this early period who helped shape Meissen's signature style are Johann Gregorius Höroldt, who transformed the flat surfaces of plates, cups and saucers with his incredible set of baroque ornaments.

Tray (Swan Service), circa 1742-1743

And J. J. Kendler, who was known for creating realistic models, and dynamic figures.

Elephant clock, circa 1745 Meissen porcelain and bronze

At first, Meissen objects were considered such a rarity that they were used exclusively for display.

Demonstration of porcelain on wall brackets

Interestingly, court etiquette demanded that August the Strong use only silver and gold at the table, so, ironically, it was his ministers who used the first services from his favorite porcelain.

Subsequently, caskets for everyday use began to be made from porcelain:

"A secret to the whole world." The mystery of porcelain revealed in Meissen

"A secret to the whole world." The mystery of porcelain revealed in Meissen

"A secret to the whole world." The mystery of porcelain revealed in Meissen

And perfume bottles.

"A secret to the whole world." The mystery of porcelain revealed in Meissen

"A secret to the whole world." The mystery of porcelain revealed in Meissen

"A secret to the whole world." The mystery of porcelain revealed in Meissen

Meissen porcelain tells us about culture and time. Interiors are often renovated or remodeled, furniture gets sun damaged and worn, silver melts, textiles fade, but porcelain never changes: the colors stay just as vibrant!

Another rider is Elizabeth of Russia.

Figurative group from Meissen porcelain of Elizabeth of Russia, late 19th century

Explorers, artists and nobles passionately searched for this secret, wanting to take possession of the magical Grail: to discover "white gold" - porcelain, at the risk of losing their fortune, and sometimes sanity.

"A secret to the whole world." The mystery of porcelain revealed in Meissen

"A secret to the whole world." The mystery of porcelain revealed in Meissen

"A secret to the whole world." The mystery of porcelain revealed in Meissen