Porcelain figure "The Rape of Europa"
1710 - present
Place and Date of Production:
Germany, end of 19th century
porcelain, underglaze painting, gilding
height - 22 cm
Meissen porcelain Early in the 18th century, Augustus the Strong, elector of Saxony, arrested alchemist Johann Friedrich Bottger and imprisoned him in the town of Meissen; his mission, to discover the secret formula for hard paste porcelain. In 1708 Bottger unlocked the mystery and found the key to both porcelain and his freedom, and by 1718 factories began springing up across Europe fostering an atmosphere of ferocious competition. By 1720, the Meissen factory was producing wares that eclipsed even the finest Chinese porcelain. They dominated the European market and influenced porcelain production around the world. The Seven Year War in the late 1750s brought a halt to production at Meissen, and the mantle fell to the Royal Manufactory at Sévres, France, under the direction of King Louis VX. The third European factory to lead the market was that of Vienna, which in 1744 became the property of the Empire. Meissen procelain is perhaps most noted for its allegorical figures and those of everyday people in period costume and is without a doubt the most decorative of the three factories. Often heavily adorned with floral decoration, Meissen pieces imbue a fresh spontaneity and fluidity of motion along with an incredible technical excellence. Figures, urns, candelabra, mirrors etc. reflect a playful elegance and charm that has made them popular for more than 200 years. Authentic Meissen is marked with the traditional blue crossed swords which, despite minor variations over the years, has remained consistent. Learning these subtle variations, however, could prove invaluable not only in dating pieces but in recognizing fakes and distinguishing the mark from similar ones used by factories hoping to confuse the public. Meissen porcelain patterns have been copied by many other china makers all over the world like Royal Copenhagen, Dresden, Herend, and many other makers. The glaze on Meissen porcelain maintains its quality over time. This is why old Meissen looks so new and keeps its good condition. Other porcelains graze and have many more problems staying in good condition.