Augustus the Strong shelters in Dresden the very young alchemist Böttger who had acquired the reputation of knowing to transmute metals into gold. This is not possible and the elector is upset. The study of earthenware saved the scientist. Thus was born the Meissen porcelain factory. The elector then requested to do better than the Chinese porcelain.
The menagerie of porcelains made for Augustus is the most spectacular achievement of the early Meissen. It is part of a larger project of Porzellanschloss centered on a porcelain throne. The elector has maintained in the taste of his time a menagerie of live animals that served as models for the Meissen artists. His active and enthusiastic participation in the biggest animal tossing contest of his time nevertheless disqualifies him as a friend of the beasts.
The originality of Meissen lies in the realization of real sculptures, in the opposite to the Chinese porcelain that has a utilitarian purpose. The modeller J. G. Kirchner produced original clay statues of birds and other small animals in life size. He was assisted from 1731 by J.J. Kändler.
It is illusory to catch up in a few years the multi-centennial Chinese experience. The first pieces of the menagerie make obvious that the process is still in its development phase, with a high risk of firing cracks. They should have been colored but the enamel does not adhere to that porcelain.
Augustus dies in 1733 before the population of the porcelain menagerie is sufficient to perform a group exhibition that will never be realized. Fortunately his successor does not stop the production. The stabilization of techniques and colors and the diversification of themes will be the work of Kändler who will devote to it the last forty years of his life.
The bustard, 84 cm high standing against a stump, is one of the largest birds in the porcelain menagerie of Augustus the Strong. It is very elegant with its folded neck to preen the back. The model designed in 1732 is attributed to Kirchner. It was executed in six porcelain units of which only one remains in private hands. This piece is estimated £ 700K for sale by Christie's in London on July 7, lot 305.
SOLD for £ 840K including premium