In 2019, Meissen, Europe’s oldest porcelain manufactory, honours the traditional genre of bird painting on porcelain. Meissen’s classical images and patterns are revisited and applied to both modern and historical service and object designs.
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.
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.
The basket-weave vases are 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.
Meissen x supreme
Last February, Europe’s oldest porcelain manufactory has joined forces with the American skate and fashion brand Supreme. The result is the limited “Cupid with T-shirt” figurine, which combines the urban lifestyle of the US cult label with Meissen’s handcraft expertise.