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In 2019, MEISSEN honours the traditional genre of bird painting on porcelain while upholding the legacy of one of the most successful design motifs of more than 300 years of manufactory history. As part of an ongoing artist dialogue with the brand’s own rich history, classical images and patterns are revisited and applied to both modern and historical service and object designs in order to create contemporary reinterpretations. The collection ranges from sleek, minimalist services and mugs to wall paintings and modern home décor all the way to historic basket-weave vases, lidded boxes, and magnificent vessels that have been reissued for the first time this year.
The tradition of bird painting at MEISSEN reaches back to the early 18th century. In the beginning, Meissen’s porcelain painters painted stylised images of birds inspired be Eastern Asian porcelain designs. At the same time that chinoiseries began to fall out of fashion, the manufactory’s designs were changing as well: Meissen’s artists increasingly turned to more realistic, naturalistic depictions of native and exotic plants and animals that took their cues from scientific drawings. To this end, in 1733, Johann Joachim Kaendler approved the purchase of 56 copperplate engravings depicting a wide range of birds to be used at the manufactory as a basis for new designs. These images would be used in countless porcelain artworks and motifs starting in the 1740s. the period of “ornithological motifs” may have been brief; however, time and time again, artists have returned to the extensive design archives ever since, and continue to create innovative new designs and reinterpretations that incorporate the artistic style of their era.
“In 2019, dynamic motifs indeed represent the evolution of the bird painting which has been part of the manufactory’s repertoire for such a long time.”
Standout pieces from this year’s Limited Masterworks collection offer a proverbial cherry on top of a richly layered cake. Like the basket-weave vases pictured above – breathing new life into vase designs from 1753 with images of exotic bird species in brilliant colours upon textured porcelain. Or the “Aviary” tea caddy design by Paul Scheurich from 1930, where birds are depicted in traditional grisaille style – lively poses captured against a white background. Otto Drögsler’s renewal of the 20th century piece includes lattice detailing, placed over the enchanting scene and making the piece reminiscent of a bird cage.
And so, it is in keeping with the brand’s predilection for modern opulence that “The MEISSEN Birds Collection” takes centre stage this summer. Combining brand-new designs and techniques with age-old know-how, pulling on archive material and a simply long-standing tradition from within the manufactory itself, MEISSEN has not just honoured bird painting on porcelain – rather it is brought firmly and fervently into the modern day, with just as much flawlessness and flair as ever.