Dishes, in addition to their main function, began to play a decorative role over time, testifying to the status of their owner. Initially, they had a universal character, but as the ceremony associated with food and its setting was extended, they underwent a peculiar metamorphosis. First of all, the number of dishes increased significantly, as utensils of a specific form were already intended for particular dishes. An appropriate selection of dishes for specific meals and beverages constituted a table service (for breakfast, dinner, tea, coffee, chocolate etc.), that is a set characterised by uniform decoration. Individual sets of tableware might belong to one whole set along with a dinner service, but most often, they were separate sets. Special development of richly decorated and elaborated table services was characteristic of the 18th century, when faience and porcelain products came into use, slowly replacing dishes made of clay and metal.
During the mid-18th century it was popular to set the table on the occasion of the most important ceremonies with porcelain statuettes forming rich iconographic stories. Along the entire length of the table, next to the silverware and the china, sat an arrangement of many statuettes in the form of garden paths, streets or castle arcades, placed on a mirror sheet or coloured sand.
This early form of the teapot, the design of which is ascribed to Johann Jakob Irminger, was amended by a painted decoration outside the factory more than twenty years after the vessel had been finished. The linear, graphical method of painting was ascribed to Christian Daniel Buschow, who operated in Bayreuth.
Two curved and crossed cobalt swords are the hallmark of the porcelain factory in Meissen and have marked its products for over three hundred years. The Meissen Royal Factory first started the production of European porcelain. Ehrenfried Walther von Tschirnhaus, in collaboration with Johann Friedrich Böttger, discovered the closely guarded secret of its production in 1708. Under Böttger’s supervision, pursuant to the Royal Decree, in 1710, Kursächsische Manufaktur started to function in the castle of Albrechtsburg in Meissen.
During the mid-18th century it was popular to set the table on the occasion of the most important ceremonies with porcelain statuettes forming rich iconographic stories. Among the display of the typical national figures, undoubtedly seen as quite exotic in the eyes of Western Europe, one could be find considerable numbers of Poles, whose rich traditional noble attire and bent sabres with eastern ornamentation must have been fascinating to the Saxon court.
The fashion of taking snuff, common in Europe of the 17th and 18th centuries, sparked the creation of a separate category of containers. Maiolica pharmaceutical vases were used for selling snuff, various other tins for storing it, and different forms of snuffboxes, including those made of porcelain, were used for taking it.
Along with the growing popularisation of overseas beverages such as coffee, tea and chocolate, European manufactories also designed vessels used to hold them. At the beginning, they were modelled on familiar Chinese or Japanese forms, but then, gradually, the models took on new shapes unknown to the East.
The so-called Swan Set, the most famous of porcelain sets, was made in the Royal Manufactory in Meissen during the years 1737–1742, on the commission of Heinrich, Count von Brühl, later the First Minister of Augustus III.
A pear-shaped pot with an isolated base. Its deeply bent spout is set on a raised mascaron. Its handle in the shape of the letter “J” is ornamented with volutes at the top and the bottom, as well as raised leaves and palmettes on the outside. The pot has a domed cap with a collar.
Monkeys were the subject matter of an iconographic genre called Singerie and so were a popular depiction in the 18th century. The genre was based on the art of Jean Berain which was published in 1711. Scenes of dancing, playing and hunting monkeys wearing fashionable clothes decorated the interiors of royal palaces in Marly, Anet or Chantilly. Realistic looking monkeys were often modelled by Kändler.
A sugar bowl with a lid, having the form of an oval flattened and buckled vase standing on four volute legs. The lid is topped with a handle in the shape of a cone. The legs are made up of dual scrollwork patterns with female masks in palmette crowns placed between them; their back side is additionally ornamented with raised acanthus leaves. There is a characteristic woven relief around the edge, called Sułkowski's pattern (Sułkowski Ozier).
This is a figurine-shaped porcelain salt shaker with a container for salt. A very decorative figure of black woman with a basket was created in the oldest European porcelain workshop in Meissen, near Dresden. It was made according to the model developed by Johann Friedrich Eberlein in 1741.
Chinese and Japanese porcelain was once an extremely valuable and desirable product in Europe, which was already being imported in the Middle Ages. It was called “white gold”, because it commanded value comparable to this precious metal and was often used as its substitute (e.g. as a gift). At that time, porcelain was viewed as a synonym of luxury and its possession testified to the splendour of the house; only the wealthiest people — mainly royalty — could afford it. In the modern era — in connection with the fashion for Orientalism — porcelain gained such great popularity, that a great effort was made to discover how it was manufactured: one of the most guarded secrets of the East.
The statue is modelled on a portrait painted in 1737 by Louis de Silvestre, the court painter of Augustus III. The sculpture was designed by Johann Joachim Kändler in 1740, on the request of Heinrich, Count von Brühl; the sculpting work was completed in the autumn of 1741 and was carried out in cooperation with Johann Friedrich Eberlein and with the assistance of Johann Gottlieb Ehder.