Hentschel Children

Hentschel Children

Captivatingly Lifelike Portraits

The MEISSEN® studio of artist Julius Konrad Hentschel (1872-1907) is said to have resembled a nursery at times: “In the midst of it all, a man observing with his heart; hence the immediacy of his work …”, as the Meißner Tageblatt newspaper reported in 1907. The talented art nouveau artist immortalised such moments in porcelain like no one had ever done before. Son of a porcelain painter, he completed a repairer’s apprenticeship before studying at the Munich and Dresden Art Academies, and returned to work at MEISSEN® in 1901. The “Hentschel Children” he created between 1904 and 1907 do not seek to inveigle the beholder or gain their attention. They are wholly engrossed in playing – their uninhibited naturalness marking a turning point in MEISSEN® figurine modelling in the early 20th century.

 

The choice of expression, style and subject – scenes from everyday life – was novel at the time. Julius Konrad Hentschel immortalised his tiny tots without any staging, idealisation or symbolic intent. He depicts them in carefree demeanour, their clothing as realistic as they themselves are. They are dressed in overalls and pinafores, early 20th-century fashion wear for children at play. Hentschel is known to have devised a variety of figurines to complement writing desk accoutrements, hence his child models may also have been intended as decorative desk accessories.

Hentschel’s little figurines are far more than just pretty adornments, however. In his wholly distinctive style, the art nouveau artist has left us with unique portraits that are captivatingly lifelike. Hentschel coaxed modern, lifelike images of his own age out of the porcelain body – snapshots that reawaken memories of childhood days long gone.