Figure Collectibles

Figure Collectibles

Collecting is a Passion

As well as constituting a completely new art form, the first figurine in Meissen Porcelain® produced in the mid-18th century also unleashed a marked passion for collecting. The figurines lovingly handcrafted in the course of the Manufactory’s 300-year-plus history add up to a trip through the various stylistic epochs during which the customs of an age are vibrantly and expressively relived. We would love you to join us on this journey through time so we can present the best-known Meissen® figurines and the stories behind them to you.

 

Our Archive of Moulds – the backbone of all figure making – houses the moulds for some 9,000 sculptures. It is mainly the creativity of MEISSEN® artists from the 18th century that we have to thank for this huge repertoire. Figures made of sugar, marzipan or gum tragacanth were a popular form of table decoration long before the advent of Meissen Porcelain®. Given that these were edible and in any case rather short-lived, porcelain proved to be a far better means of producing decorations whose pleasure for diners would extend beyond the meal itself. As a result, figures made specifically for the dining table were for many years submitted to the Royal Confectionery and accorded special marks. 

An inventory of the Confectionery’s holdings drawn up in 1753 by Count Brühl, then Prime Minister and Director of the Manufactory, already lists more than 4,000 sculptured items. There were plenty of stories to tell through the medium. Life at court, the paintings of Watteau or Boucher and sundry plays and operas all offered untold stimuli for the design of figures. The furtive satire, veiled humour and cryptic messages so typical of 18th-century figures can thrill us even today. Thus it comes as no surprise that figurines soon started appearing in the curiosity cabinets of the wealthy middle classes. Such collections were often focused around a single theme. 

We were presented with one enthusiastic collector, Baron Kaspar Joachim von Utz, in the novel by Bruce Chatwin. The story was filmed in 1992 under the Dutch director George Sluizer, Armin Mueller-Stahl starring as the protagonist. Meissen® artist Peter Strang was inspired by the film to capture this collector for all time in Meissen Porcelain®. Peter Strang presented the first specimen to the principal actor Armin Mueller-Stahl at the German premiere of the film in 1993 at Dresden. The latter voiced his appreciation with the words: “Through this porcelain figure I have acquired a vestige of immortality.”

Collecting is a passion or, to quote Goethe, “Collectors are happy people”. Such passion and the sense of happiness to which it gives rise are just as timeless as our Meissen Porcelain®. The present brochure contains a small selection of figurine collectables. We have opted for 12 figurines from each of the best-known series, a quantity that fits in nicely with the number of months in the year.

Here’s wishing you no end of inspiration from the endless variety of figurines produced in more than 300 years of Meissen Porcelain® history. This may be the beginning of a marvellous passion for collecting.

Cordial regards,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Liane Werner
Director Art