Meissen’s rich history is as much cemented in its development of porcelain itself, as well as the forever-developing, famed décors. The manufactory is proud to boast some of the most skilled artisanal porcelain painters, each of whom spend years studying and perfecting the artform. Their unrelenting commitment to perfection is, in turn, what has led MEISSEN to produce such a prolific archive of motifs – which ornately decorate table services, home deco objects and masterworks alike. We call it: The Pattern Cabinet.
The extensive range of décors is a history book of sorts. Meissen’s unrivalled patterns have always tapped the zeitgeist of the time, reflecting the vogue of the art and design worlds. From chinoiseries that drew inspiration from East Asian precursors to iconic designs recognised the world over, as well as more contemporary offerings that reference the legacy of the brand while sitting pretty within a more modern context.
For the patterns’ realisation, the manufactory relies on proprietary over- and underglaze colours made from pigments formulated in the in-house laboratory – first founded in 1720. In the early days of the laboratory, it was porcelain painter Johann Gregorius Höroldt who advanced the development of colours, creating a base palette of 16 coloured, kiln-resistant overglazes and a cobalt-blue underglaze that laid the cornerstone for the manufactory’s decorative tradition. During his time, hundreds of decoration motifs were created of such artistic calibre and radiant colour that they blazed a trail for all the European porcelain that followed. Today, the standard repertoire of a Meissen porcelain painter comprises around 300 colours – a small portion of the approximately 10,000 paint formulas conserved in the laboratory.
"While flowers and floral designs continue to reign supreme – timeless favourites on pristine porcelain – the manufactory’s artisans have drawn equal inspiration from more mythical sources."
Some of Meissen’s most significant and instantly recognisable patterns focus on floral themes. Applied to tableware and vases as far back as 1720, the “Indian Flower Branches” is one of the oldest decorative motifs of the Meissen manufactory. Modelled after East Asian archetypes of “Indian” painting, the décor offers ornate flair to the famous “Swans Service”. Based on the still life paintings of the Old Masters, roses began to appear as a motif in porcelain painting in 1740. Initially in bouquet form, the rose became popular as a single motif in the following Marcolini period. The graceful “MEISSEN Rose” was developed from these paintings in the Biedermeier period. It was also during this era that the “Strewn Flowers” came to – a further evolution of flower painting at the manufactory. A timeless symbol of everlasting love, roses still have yet to give up their prominent role amongst all floral motifs.
While flowers and floral designs continue to reign supreme – timeless favourites on pristine porcelain – the manufactory’s artisans have drawn equal inspiration from more mythical sources. From the historical “Red Court Dragon” from 1740 to the “Ming Dragon” established around 1910, such mystique-bearing motifs wow time and time again, their ties to ancient aesthetics allowing a certain persevering prowess.
In fact, one of the only rivals as far as reputation and recognisability are concerned, are perhaps the magnificent and majestic “Crossed Swords”. The iconic detailing is a decorative homage to the manufactory’s historic signet. Since 1722, the trademark has been applied by hand to every single piece of Meissen porcelain that leaves the manufactory in its own cobalt blue – by appointed specialist painters. As can indeed be said for Meissen’s ever-expanding Pattern Cabinet, the swords have evolved over time, yet remain recognisable – an ever-trusted signifier of Meissen Porcelain, its incomparable quality and undying artistic integrity.