Tea set for 2 persons, Figures of Italian Comedy, signet "Limited Masterpieces", limited
This service was designed in 1741 to an order by Johann Ernst Gotzkowsky (1710-1775), a Berlin businessman. He had a line in fashion accessories and jewellery, ran factories and managed to become a supplier to the court of Frederick the Great (1712-1786). He was a middle-class self-made man who shared the consuming passion of Augustus the Strong (1670-1733) for porcelain and the fine arts.
As was the fashion at the time, the service was decorated with relief moulding and flowers. The cartouches on this re-interpreted version enclose Commedia dell'Arte figures who throw long shadows against a Venetian backdrop in the evening sun - a theme with a long tradition at MEISSEN®. The "Commedia dell'Arte", a form of Italian folk theatre that operates with masks and stock characters, was exceedingly popular at Baroque courts. It was originally at home in Naples and Venice, where travelling troupes would act out comedies on improvised street stages.
The plot was invariably about figures from the lower echelons of society, of which Harlequin was one, tussling with the upper classes - figures who make complete fools of themselves on account of their supercilious arrogance. The masks, body language and brightly coloured costumes of the various characters inspired almost all great modellers at MEISSEN®, including Johann Joachim Kaendler (1706-1775) and Peter Reinecke (1717-1768), to produce entire sets of such figures in porcelain. The "Commedia dell'Arte" era ended with the French Revolution. The feature-rich pattern on this Baroque déjeuner offers a re-enactment that is uncommonly well worth seeing.
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