Asians

Asians

The Appeal of the Exotic

A resurgence of the great European craze for East Asia inspired Johann Joachim Kaendler (1706-1775) and Friedrich Elias Meyer (1723-1785) to produce countless figurines of Asians in MEISSEN PORCELAIN® from the mid-1740s onwards. The subjects are not always readily identifiable as being Japanese or Chinese. This is hardly surprising considering their modellers had never seen such races, their sole graphic sources being copperplate engravings, in most cases those included in travel reports, as well as fanciful sketches by Johann Gregorius Höroldt (1696-1775), surely the most momentous porcelain painter ever, that go to make up the “Schulz Codex”.

 

These Figurine Collectibles date back to between 1750 and 1760, a period for which virtually all records have been lost. It is accordingly difficult to say for certain who produced which figurine. Given that the gifted Meyer was exempted from the more routine tasks in Kaendler’s workshop, it can be assumed that many of the designs were his work, though there is nothing to conclusively document which ones. 

It is not merely on account of their unfamiliar attire and of attributes such as brightly hued parrots, porcelain vessels and parasols that our Asians command our attention so winningly. Their bearing and the mix of colours used to decorate them likewise exude a certain exoticism. In keeping with other figurines of the age, they are portrayed as musicians, traders, loving couples or happy families. They feel strangely familiar as a result, arousing an urge to embark on a voyage of discovery so as to actually get to know the peoples on which they are modelled.