Haus Meissen, Meissener Porzellan, Staatliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Meissen, Meissen, Sachsen, Saxony, Germany, fotoeins.com

Meissen : centuries of porcelain tradition

In a present-age of speed, screens, and instant gratification, there are reasons to hold onto something tangible in your hands, something as simple as a cup, a plate, a bowl; all high-quality products made in the slow time-honoured way developed over centuries as an important local and, now national, cultural tradition.

First time porcelain production began in China going back at least 1000 years BCE with the subsequent centuries yielding hard durable highly-valued products in white, blue-and-white, and green. With European naval powers reaching Asia in the 16th and 17th-centuries, porcelain found new customers and high demand as “white gold” on par with gold and silver. Admiration and envy got many in Europe to thinking: all we need are some chalky deposits, some water, and some big hot ovens, and we’ll be rich … apart from chemistry, the correct firing or curing temperatures, experimentation, and skill. Until the early 18th-century all porcelain came from China, which is how the present-day phrase “(fine) china” arises.

The European debut to porcelain-making began in 1710 in Albrechtsburg castle in Meissen. When the big guy (who pays your wages or is holding you prisoner) says: “go ye therefore and make me some ‘gold'”, one tends to heed those orders. Frequently in need of funds, Augustus the Strong imprisoned and ordered the alchemist Johann Friedrich Böttger to produce “gold”, but with mathematician and physicist Ehrenfried Walther von Tschirnhaus’ guidance, the two gentlemen did the next best thing and produced Europe’s first “white gold.” Porcelain manufacturing moved from the castle to the present location outside of Meissen’s old town in 1863.

We enter the Meissen Couture and its porcelain museum for a look behind the scenes. Why worry about modern techniques like 3-d printing when you’ve got motivated people willing to put in the hours; their hearts, minds, and souls into their craft? The basic creative instinct and personal touch live on in Meissen.

Haus Meissen, Meissener Porzellan, Staatliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Meissen, Meissen, Sachsen, Saxony, Germany, fotoeins.com

The familiar “two blue crossed-swords” signature was introduced in 1720 and has been synonymous with Meissen porcelain since 1731.

Haus Meissen, Meissener Porzellan, Staatliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Meissen, Meissen, Sachsen, Saxony, Germany, fotoeins.com

Artistry & technique

Haus Meissen, Meissener Porzellan, Staatliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Meissen, Meissen, Sachsen, Saxony, Germany, fotoeins.com

Pride in her work

Haus Meissen, Meissener Porzellan, Staatliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Meissen, Meissen, Sachsen, Saxony, Germany, fotoeins.com

Cherub

Haus Meissen, Meissener Porzellan, Staatliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Meissen, Meissen, Sachsen, Saxony, Germany, fotoeins.com

Hands

Haus Meissen, Meissener Porzellan, Staatliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Meissen, Meissen, Sachsen, Saxony, Germany, fotoeins.com

Little heads

Haus Meissen, Meissener Porzellan, Staatliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Meissen, Meissen, Sachsen, Saxony, Germany, fotoeins.com

Haus Meissen, Meissener Porzellan, Staatliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Meissen, Meissen, Sachsen, Saxony, Germany, fotoeins.com

Patience (1)

Haus Meissen, Meissener Porzellan, Staatliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Meissen, Meissen, Sachsen, Saxony, Germany, fotoeins.com

Patience (2)

Haus Meissen, Meissener Porzellan, Staatliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Meissen, Meissen, Sachsen, Saxony, Germany, fotoeins.com

Haus Meissen, Meissener Porzellan, Staatliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Meissen, Meissen, Sachsen, Saxony, Germany, fotoeins.com

Teller 5 (Plate 5). All of the designs are individually painted by hand.

Haus Meissen, Meissener Porzellan, Staatliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Meissen, Meissen, Sachsen, Saxony, Germany, fotoeins.com

Set 3 tlg. (3-piece set) for 179€

Haus Meissen, Meissener Porzellan, Staatliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Meissen, Meissen, Sachsen, Saxony, Germany, fotoeins.com

Porcelain bells, similar to those installed at the Zwinger Carillon in Dresden

Haus Meissen, Meissener Porzellan, Staatliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Meissen, Meissen, Sachsen, Saxony, Germany, fotoeins.com

The famous 1743-1744 painting “La Belle Chocolatière de Vienne” (The Chocolate Girl, Das Schokoladenmädchen) by Jean-Étienne Liotard is the basis for the sculpture at right: “Schokoladenmädchen mit Tasse” (Chocolate girl with cup) made in 1920.

Meissen Couture art collection, Haus Meissen, Meissener Porzellan, Staatliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Meissen, Meissen, Sachsen, Saxony, Germany, fotoeins.com

A selection from the Meissen Couture art collection: 23, 38, and 36 thousand Euros from left to right, respectively.

Saxonia, Saxon statue of liberty, Haus Meissen, Meissener Porzellan, Staatliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Meissen, Meissen, Sachsen, Saxony, Germany, fotoeins.com

Saxonia, Saxon statue of liberty, Haus Meissen, Meissener Porzellan, Staatliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Meissen, Meissen, Sachsen, Saxony, Germany, fotoeins.com

At a height of 1.8 metres (6 feet), Meissen’s “Saxonia” is the largest free-standing porcelain sculpture in the world, constructed in time for the 25th anniversary (2015) of German reunification. Each of the 8000 blossoms in Saxonia’s dress is individually handmade. As of posting, there’s now a little Saxonia, 0.68 metre high with 4000 blossoms.

From Dresden to Meissen:

•   Meissen porcelain museum
•   Germany Tourism listing

Meissen is located on the river Elbe in the state of Saxony, some 25 kilometres northwest of Dresden. With the train from Dresden Hauptbahnhof (central train station), take the S1 S-Bahn directly to the route’s end-station Meissen-Triebischtal. The walk to the porcelain manufacturer and museum is at most 10 minutes. The total trip duration (train and walk) is about 50 minutes from Dresden.

I’m very grateful to Meissen Porcelain, Germany Tourism and Sächsisches Elbland for supporting and providing access to places and activities in the Saxon Elbland region. I made the photos above on 29 April 2015; the short 3-minute video is from the Meissen Manufaktur website. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-70c.

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