The Collector, coloured, with gold, H 36 cm

The Collector, coloured, with gold, H 36 cm

He gazes at his figurines with the innocent joy of a child, brings them to life, directs them to sing, dance and bow to applause from an imaginary audience. His table serves as a miniature stage, mutates into the famous boards that signify the world. “The Collector” is an ambitious sculptural work in which former MEISSEN® Modeller-in-Chief Peter Strang recreates a key scene involving the porcelain fancier Baron Kaspar von Utz, the eponymous hero in a novel by Bruce Chatwin published in 1988. 

Utz owns a spectacular collection of Meissen Porcelain® that has survived World War Two and the Stalinist years in the former Czechoslovakia unscathed. The aristocrat’s palace and assets were confiscated during the Cold War, so that he now lives in a decrepit two-room flat in Prague. He has, however, been left with the love of his life: a collection of over a thousand precious  MEISSEN® porcelain figurines, amongst them Harlequin and his companions from the Commedia dell’Arte by master modeller Johann Joachim Kaendler. On trips to the West “Utz” repeatedly contemplates not returning to Prague. He decides against this, however, on the grounds that he would not be allowed to take his beloved figurines with him. True passion, after all, engulfs a person’s entire being - a feeling any passionate collector is more than likely to be familiar with. 

Chatwin witnessed this passion at first hand: as a young man he worked for the noted London auctioneers Sotheby’s, which is when he became acquainted with MEISSEN® figurines and their often lovably eccentric admirers, whom he light-heartedly characterises in the figure of “Utz”. The novel formed the basis for a film of the same name in which Armin Mueller-Stahl brilliantly plays the title role. The film won the “Silver Bear” at the 1992 Berlinale. And it was essentially also the outstanding performance by the German actor that inspired MEISSEN® artist Peter Strang to sculpture a porcelain-besotted baron whose features strikingly resemble those of Mueller-Stahl.

It is with incomparable verve that Strang empathetically captures the climax of the plot – Utz’s engrossed staging of his figures, the tiniest Commedia dell’Arte actors ever made at MEISSEN®. What’s more, he pays tribute with his wondrous work of plastic art not only to Kaendler as the founding father of MEISSEN® porcelain figures but also to all ardent collectors of Meissen Porcelain®.

SKU: 900300-73530-1

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