The Meissen mould archives safeguard some 9.000 moulds spanning three centuries, making this the heart of the manufactory’s tradition. The rich variety represented here has its roots in the creativity of Meissen artists during the 18th century. In 1730, the manufactory entered what has been dubbed its sculptural period, when the artistic focus shifted from utility pieces following East Asian archetypes to large-scale sculptures, spurred by Augustus the Strong and his mission to transform Dresden’s Japanese Palace into a bedecked porcelain estate. The name Johann Joachim Kaendler is closely tied to this period. The modeler came to Meissen in 1731 and quickly made a name for himself with his life-sized animal sculptures. Kaendler’s dedicated himself to fulfilling the grandiose demands of the royal court, creating numerous epochal pieces in rapid succession that redefined the potential of porcelain as an artistic medium.
At the end of the 1830s, the Rococo style began to influence the works of the manufactory. Porcelain sculptures became smaller, without forfeiting any artistic character. Table decorations, until then made from sugar or marzipan, were increasingly supplanted by longer-lasting porcelain figurines. Originally, these sculptures were inspired primarily by religious or mythical themes or life in the royal courts, but by the middle of the 18th century these were gradually replaced by more folkloric subjects. Entire series were created depicting craftsmen, miners, farmers and beggars. The figures created at this time were not only trailblazing examples taken up by other European manufactories, but also involved new techniques and motifs that are still evident in MEISSEN pieces to this day – from Walter Schott’s Art Nouveau “Boule Player” and Max Esser’s “Otter” to the 21st-century works created by Jörg Danielczyk. Thanks to the preservation efforts of the mould archive, the majority of Meissen’s original models have survived intact to this day, enabling historic figures to be brought back to life again and again.