Teapot

ARTIST / MAKER: Meissen porcelain factory (manufacturer)
DATE: ca. 1710-1713 (made)
PLACE: Germany (made)
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Red stoneware; moulded, polished, impressed and incised
COLLECTION NUMBER: 881

The first European hard-paste porcelain, comparable in quality to imports from China and Japan, was produced in Germany at the beginning of the 18th century. The discovery of the secret of producing hard-paste porcelain is credited to the mathematician, physicist and physician Ehrenfried Walther von Tschirnhaus. Following his death the alchemist Johann Friedrich Böttger, who was working in Dresden for the court of Augustus the Strong, began producing porcelain at the Meissen porcelain manufactory from 1708, where this piece was created. Prior to this discovery however, Böttger unearthed the secret of making red-brown stoneware similar to Chinese Yixing wares through the use of iron-rich clay found in Saxony. This teapot is an early example of Böttger’s red stoneware which could be polished, painted to imitate lacquer or left undecorated. Böttger stonewares generally adopted the same shapes as East-Asian ceramics that were being imported into Europe at this time. The body of this teapot has been decorated using three different decorative techniques; moulding, polished/cut decoration and incising. From 1710-12, the Meissen factory employed glass-cutters and polishers from Bohemia to decorate stoneware vessels such as this. Glass-cutters were even sent to the Leipzig Fair in 1710 to provide bespoke armorial decoration on stoneware pieces for aristocratic buyers. As Meissen porcelain became more sought after, the fashion for Böttger stoneware began to wane and by 1712 only four glass workers remained at Meissen.