The Chitra Collection: European Porcelains

The Chitra Collection: European Porcelains
Known as the “Wasserman Thee Potte,” this 1730 Meissen teapot takes the form of a bearded man holding a fish, which forms the spout, while the handle takes the shape of a woman. Based on a series of engravings by French designer Jacques Stella in his 1667 book Livre de Vases, the pot was delivered to the Japanisches Palais in Dresden where Augustus the Strong once housed his impressive collection of porcelain. While this pot is quite simply decorated, other examples of the same design are much more elaborately decorated and gilded.

Böttger produced a hard red stoneware first, but by 1713, Meissen was making hard-paste white porcelain that could be glazed and painted. Meissen very much tried to keep the recipe secret, but it found its way to Vienna, where production at the Wiener Porzellanmanufaktur began in 1718–19, and then to Venice, where the Vezzi factory was founded in 1720. Other German ceramic works were established in the 1750s. In France, porcelain production was introduced at the Royal Manufactory of Sèvres in 1765–69, although the factory continued to also make soft-paste porcelains until 1810—five different teapot designs were offered. In the United States, potters had also tried to replicate Chinese and Japanese porcelain, but it was not until 1753 that Andrew Duché discovered deposits of the right type of clay in Virginia. The English potter William Cookworthy recorded that Duché “discovered both the petunze and kaolin. It is this latter earth which he says is essential to the success of the manufacture.”

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