plate

 
Decorator
Manufacturer
Creation date
Materials
hard paste porcelain, polychrome enamels, gilding
Dimensions
17 1/2 in.
Credit line
Lilly Pavilion Discretionary Fund
Accession number
1988.4
Collection
Currently On View In
Norb and Ruth Schaefer, Sr. & Norb and Carolyn Schaefer Gallery - H212
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Indianapolis Museum of Art: Highlights of the Collection (2005)

By the 1600s, Chinese porcelain was widely known among Europeans, who considered it as precious as gold. Yet the secret of its manufacture eluded them until 1709, when Johann Friedrich Böttger, an alchemist indentured to Augustus the Strong, elector of Saxony and king of Poland, created a highly glazed, translucent white porcelain. Böttger yearned for his freedom, but his discovery was so important that it was an affair of state and, much to his chagrin, he was appointed the first director of the Meissen Porcelain Manufactory-the first in Europe to produce hard-paste porcelain objects.

The IMA's plate dates to the early years of the Meissen operation, when its most beautiful works were those decorated in enamels under the direction of Johann Gregor Herold, or Höroldt, who was in charge of the painting department until his retirement in 1765. Among other surface ornamentation, Herold introduced chinoiserie, the decorative motifs based, as the name suggests, on Chinese and other Asian themes, for which Meissen became famous. The IMA's plate, decorated with chinoiserie elements in the center and European landscape and harbor scenes around its rim, is associated with the work of Christian Friedrich Herold, or Höroldt, one of the major artists at the manufactory and possibly a cousin of Johann Gregor. The reverse of the plate displays Meissen's trademark crossed swords in underglaze blue.

[I]n one sense [Böttger] made gold, because the great [sales] of that ware bring a great deal of money into the country.
-Baron Carl Ludwig Von Poellnitz, 1737