Covered vase painted with polychrome chinoiserie scenes by Adam Friedrich von Löwenfinck (1714–1754), Meissen, ca. 1735. Photo courtesy Röbbig München
“AR”-monogram in underglaze blue; former’s sign “XII” for Johann Christoph Leibnitz (1702–1748) – H. 39 cm. Price on request.
This egg-shaped vase with short cylindrical neck has a domed cover with protruding rim and pointed ball finial. Both cover and vase are covered with a violet ground enclosing two quatrefoil reserves on each. Inserted in the ground are birds and stylised sprigs of indianische Blumen; the reserves contain polychrome travelling scenes in the chinoiserie style, in spite of which the Meissen term for these figures going about their business on greensward platforms was “japonisch.” On one side of the vase the decorator depicted a woman carrying a child who is saying a fond farewell to a little man; on the other we see a man riding a creature of fable and holding up a pennant on a long stick with his left hand. He is accompanied by two further men, the larger of whom is leading the animal on a rein while the other, smaller of stature, strides ahead supporting himself on a stick.
The reserves on the cover both show a male figure holding a fan, one resting on the ground. In all the scenes the sky features a golden sun with a red surround, while the figures are flanked by shrubs of indianische Blumen and the foregrounds typically show a black rock and colourful flowers.
The attribution of the painting to the hand of Adam Friedrich von Löwenfinck is made possible by comparison with a faience tankard marked “F.v.L” (Friedrich von Löwenfinck) from the Bayreuth manufactory of Knöller. The same chinoiserie scenes are also found on a further Meissen piece in The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, a narrow-necked vase with a yellow ground, while three vases in the Sankt Annen-Museum in Lübeck display the same violet ground with integrated “Indian” flowers and birds and also have reserves with very similar chinoiserie scenes. This body of evidence makes it largely certain that all the works mentioned were decorated by Löwenfinck.
Adam Friedrich von Löwenfinck was one of the most celebrated ceramics decorators of the eighteenth century. He initially worked at Meissen before continuing his career at the faience and porcelain manufactories of Bayreuth, Ansbach, Potsdam(?), Chantilly, Fulda, Höchst, and Straßburg-Haguenau. After having done superlative work at Meissen, he passed on his skills and expertise at the other manufactories where he worked, thus exerting an enduring influence on their output.
In 1727 Löwenfinck became an apprentice at the Meissen porcelain manufactory, where he was subsequently recorded as a painter “in coloured flowers” [in bunden Bluhmen]. On account of his great artistic talent, he was entrusted by the director of painting, Johann Gregorius Höroldt, with executing a wide variety of subjects including chinoiseries and indianische Blumen, and with making copies of Chinese and Japanese originals from the Royal Porcelain Collection of Augustus the Strong in the Japanese Palace in Dresden. Furthermore, Löwenfinck is regarded as the grand master of creatures of fable, which he painted on yellow-ground vases and also on the “Service with the Black and Gold Stripes.” In 1736, following a disagreement with the tableware administrator Hage, Löwenfinck absconded from Meissen, presumably because he was receiving little recognition and being poorly paid for his remarkable work. Thanks to Löwenfinck’s defection, an artistic transfer took place in which Meissen decorative motifs entered the repertoires of numerous other manufactories.
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