• 500 Years: Decorative Arts Eur auction at Christies

    Sale 2203

    500 Years: Decorative Arts Europe Including Carpets from The Corcoran Gallery of Art

    24 November 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 74

    A MEISSEN (MARCOLINI) PORCELAIN 'HEN AND CHICKS' TUREEN AND COVER

    CIRCA 1780, BLUE CROSSED SWORDS AND STAR MARK, BLUE ...4, INCISED D9, IMPRESSED 38.B

    Price Realised  

    A MEISSEN (MARCOLINI) PORCELAIN 'HEN AND CHICKS' TUREEN AND COVER
    Circa 1780, blue crossed swords and star mark, blue ...4, incised D9, impressed 38.B
    Naturalistically modeled and colored
    9 in. (20.3 cm.) wide (2)


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    The present model was also produced at the Chelsea factory in London. An obsession with rendering natural subjects in a particularly naturalistic way was an important aspect of British mid-18th Century taste. The upper-class dining-table of the period would have been a heady visual mix, a literal feast for the eyes, a game of trompe l'oeil. Cooked foods masqueraded as their uncooked ingredients, disguised in pastry, sugar, paper and marzipan. Some dishes were served in elaborate silver tureens formed as fish or turtles, and, from the early 18th Century onwards, European, as opposed to Chinese, porcelain was available for the very finest tables.

    The intention was to arouse the senses of the honored guest, both visual and gustatory, as well as providing amusement. The medium of porcelain was ideal for the purpose. In skilled hands it could be crisply and realistically modeled, and the enamel colors could closely simulate nature, allowing the manufacture of convincing illusions. Well-heeled British consumers had long imported Chinese porcelain for their tables, for which the Chinese made many novelty and zoomorphic wares. At the same time, the British were importing Meissen porcelain, and were presumably aware of other European products. The Chelsea factory, although expensive, was ideally placed at the heart of fashionable London life to respond to the home market.

    The present Meissen example dates later into the 18th century than does the Chelsea model. See The Doris Duke Collection, Christie's, New York 3-5 June 2004, lot 831 for the same model as a group rather than as a tureen, also incised with model number D.9.