Pair of cups and saucers

ARTIST / MAKER: Meissen porcelain factory (manufacturer)
DATE: ca. 1735 (made)
PLACE: Germany (made)
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Hard-paste porcelain, glaze

The secret of Chinese porcelain production was finally understood in Germany in 1708 and led to the growth of the European porcelain industry. The discovery of hard-paste porcelain is credited to the mathematician, physicist and physician Ehrenfried Walther von Tschirnhaus. Following his death, the alchemist Johann Friedrich Böttger began producing porcelain at the Meissen porcelain manufactory, where these cups and saucers were created in around 1735. They closely resemble white Chinese Dehua porcelain, later known as ‘blanc de Chine’, that was extremely fashionable in Europe at this time. Both cups are decorated in moulded relief with the prunus flower, a motif typically seen on Chinese Dehua wares. A similar type of decoration is often seen on the work of J.J. Irminger, a gold and silversmith who worked at the Meissen manufactory. This was often known as ‘Irmingersche Belege’ (Irminger encrustations). Unlike traditional Chinese tea bowls, these cups have handles, an 18th century adaptation that was introduced because of the European preference for black tea which is served at a higher temperature.