Like much of the porcelain made during the Meissen manufactory’s first decades of production, this tea bowl and saucer were painted by an artist from an independent workshop. This practice, known as Hausmalerei or ‘home painting’, originated in the Netherlands in the 17th century with the decoration of delftware and Chinese export porcelain. In the first half of the 18th century this became a lucrative trade for painters of German porcelain in Augsburg, Nuremberg and Breslau. Inferior or surplus porcelain made at Meissen was sold ‘in the white’ to independent painters, who decorated and sold the pieces privately. Although the quality of such decoration varied greatly, some workshops such as those of the Aufenwerth or Seuter families were renowned, and were often commissioned by wealthy patrons to decorate porcelain with specific scenes.
This tea bowl and saucer were painted in the workshop of F.J. Ferner, who is thought to have worked in Thuringia. Both pieces are painted in underglaze cobalt blue with the Chinese ‘rock and bird’ pattern. Often found on Ferner’s output, the undecorated areas around the Chinese-inspired ornament are enhanced with European figures, doves and villages in iron red and gilding.