Courtly pageants of the Baroque and Rococo were prestigious, all-inclusive works of art that went on for days, weeks or even months. Masked balls, opera, hunts, fireworks and illuminations all featured in a richly varied programme of royal entertainment - as did Commedia dell´Arte, originally a form of Italian popular theatre that made great use of masks and stock characters. Out of his fascination with those types of actors, Johann Joachim Kaendler took up the Commedia dell´Arte theme at the beginning of the 1770s to create these twelve characters in Meissen porcelain for the very first time. The actors´ theatrical gestures and postures, expressive faces and gaily-coloured costumes over tight-fitting breeches accorded particularly well with Kaendler´s interest in flowing figures. As was usual at the time, he had recourse to etchings by Jean-Antoine Watteau, Jacques Callot and ascendant classicism as his graphic sources.