The service made for Clemens August of Bavaria (1700-1761) Archbishop Elector of Cologne, Bishop of Paderborn, Hildesheim and Osnabrück, was delivered in 1735, and was probably made to commemorate his 35th birthday. It was publicly auctioned after his death in 1761.
Clemens August was a powerful figure in both secular and spiritual circles in the 18th century. A patron of the Arts and renowned for his elegant courts (1), he was born into the Wittlesbach family as the fourth son of Max Emanuel, Elector of Bavaria and his Polish wife, Theresia Kunigunde Sobieska. His father steered him into an enormously successful career in the church, and although only ordained in 1725, Pope Benedict XIII made him a bishop in 1727 (2).
Clemens August was a Freemason, and the saucer of this lot ingeniously incorporates a minute masonic triangle between the grasses and shrubs just above the gilt support (3). Three years after the service was delivered, Freemasonry was suppressed by Benedict's successor, Pope Clement XII, in 1738. Clemens August was reluctant to abandon Freemasonry altogether, and founded the Mopsorden, an alternative pseudo-masonic order in Germany and Sweden to provide members with a legitimate substitute for masonic social rites (4).
It is possible that the two figures on the saucer were derived from the two figures illustrated here from sheet 67 of Höroldt's Schulz Codex. Arthur Müller discusses the known surviving pieces of this service in 'Das Meissner Höroldt-Service für Clemens August, Kurfürst von Köln', Keramos (July 1958), although other pieces have come to light since then. See D. Hoffmeister, Katalog der Sammlung Hoffmeister (Hamburg, 1999), Vol. II, pp. 484-487, nos. 310-311 for a teabowl and saucer and a two-handled beaker and saucer from the service, and a discussion of the numbers of forms produced for the service. Also see the example in the Carabelli Collection, illustrated by Ulrich Pietsch, 'Frühes Meissener Porzellan Sammlung Carabelli' Catalogue (Munich, 2000), pp. 140-142, no. 59; the two teabowls and saucers from the Goulburn Collection sold in these Rooms on 1st December 1980, lots 320-321, the teabowl and saucer from the O'Byrne Collection on 27th November 1961, lot 72, another on 9th July 2001, lot 77, another in our Geneva Rooms on 10th November 1986, lot 181, another sold by Sotheby's Zürich on 22nd May 1981, lot 34 and also lots 123-124, and the two teabowls and saucers from the Darmstaedter Collection (see the Catalogue 1925, pl. 23).
1. For a discussion of Clemens August's collection, see Erich Köllmann, 'Kurfürst Clemens August von Köln ein Porzellansammler des 18. Jahrhunderts' Keramos (August 1961), pp. 19-34.
2. For a thorough account of the various secular titles and bishoprics incorporated in his coat of arms, see Hoffmeister, Ibid. (Hamburg, 1999), Vol. II, pp. 584, where the incorporation of the black cross of the Teutonic Order is also discussed.
3. See Thomas Iwe, 'Das Meissener Schokoladen-, Kaffee-, und Teeservice des Kurfürsten Clemens-August von Köln' Keramos 189/190 (2005), pp. 3-51.
4. Augustus III, King of Poland and Elector of Saxony was the grand-master of the Order in Saxony. The Order was active between 1740 and 1782, admitted women, and was principally composed of Roman Catholics. The pug-dog, symbolising the attributes of devotion and fidelity, was used as its emblem.