Masterpieces of the European Porcelain in the Metropolitan Museum

Plate with Yellow Flowers (Verbascum blattarioides) on a Dark Ground. Royal Porcelain Manufactory, Berlin, Germany, 1809–13. Porcelain, drawing. Twinight collection

In the beginning of the 18th century German alchemist J.F. Bottger disclosed the secret of hard-paste porcelain (pate dure) production. Several years later the scientist founded a small manufactory and in 1710 he produced the first porcelain in Europe. Within the next one hundred years Bottger’s revelation had an outstanding destiny and by the beginning of the 19th century there were dozens and even hundreds of big manufactories in France, Austria and Germany. The best of them located in Sevres, Vienna and Berlin made significant progress leaving the “Meissen pioneer” far behind. The experts of these manufactories adopted complicated formulas and technologies and learned how to make delicate, gentle and solid pieces of brilliant white porcelain decorated with intricate paintings. According to many connoisseurs, the creations of these manufacturers are the best porcelain works even nowadays.

About 75 unique pieces of porcelain from Sevres, Vienna and Berlin manufactories are represented at Royal Porcelain from the Twinight Collection, 1800–1850 exhibition which was opened in the New York Metropolitan Museum on the 23rd of September. The exposition displays the half a century history of porcelain production development with the examples from the best manufactories of Europe.

The exhibition contains four departments: Recalling Antiquity, Natural World, Recalling History and View Painting. The first department presents the porcelain created on the base of antiquity. It is reflected not only in ancient Greek images but also in forms and decoration. Here one can see graceful vases just like ancient Greek kraters, salvers depicting ancient heroes, cups and dishes decorated with cameos and meander.

The next department introduces a set of items created under the influence of the interest to nature which arose in the 19th century. This porcelain is decorated with bright and exact details of flowers and plants. The special interest is drawn to the Sevres services depicting exotic and indigenous birds. These images were created with the help of sketches made by professional ornithologists.

The third department presents the beautiful vases and tea services decorated with landscapes, mostly from Berlin manufactory. The rulers of Germany and Prussia often use vases and services as diplomatic gifts.

The exposition is accomplished by the set of porcelain works decorated with the pictures of important historical events, palace interiors and portraits of famous people. The special interest is attracted to a small Sevres saucer where Captain’s Cook ship is depicted amid the Atlantic icebergs.

The exhibition is opened till April 19, 2009.

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Published in: on November 27, 2008 at 12:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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