Tea bowl and saucer

ARTIST / MAKER: Meissen porcelain factory (manufacturer)
DATE: ca.1740 (made)
PLACE: Germany (made)
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Porcelain painted in overglaze enamels and gilt

Europe’s first hard-paste porcelain manufactory was established at Meissen in 1710, a year after the secret to producing Chinese porcelain was discovered. Under Augustus the Strong’s royal patronage, Meissen demonstrated Saxony’s scientific and artistic achievements producing fine porcelain pieces which were admired by the courts of Europe and regularly presented as diplomatic gifts.

As tea drinking transformed from an exotic novelty to a domestic ritual during the 18th century, tea sets were often decorated with European scenes. Sea voyages and harbour scenes depicting merchants on the shore loading or unloading cargo became a popular subject at Meissen. Such scenes are attributed to Christian Friedrich Herold (ca.1700-1779) and Johann George Heintze (fl. 1720-1750), although other landscape and marine painters were employed by the manufactory in 1744.

Meissen porcelain was popular with buyers across Europe with numerous commissions from Italian aristocrats, and the depiction of Venetian buildings became popular after the Crown Prince of Saxony’s Grand Tour of Italy between 1738 and 1740. The scenes on this teabowl in Rococo style cartouches are likely inspired by Melchior Küssel’s engravings in Prospektor von Italien and Iconographia published in Augsburg in 1683.