The service made for Clemens August 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 court1, he was born into the Wittlesbach family as the fourth son of Max Emmanuel, 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 17272.
Clemens August was a Freemason, and after Freemasonry was suppressed by Pope Clement XII, in 1738, Clemens August established the Mopsorden, an alternative pseudo-masonic order in Germany and Sweden, which provided members with a legitimate substitute for masonic social rites3. A teabowl and saucer from the service sold in these Rooms on 10th July 2007, lot 30, ingeniously incorporated a minute masonic triangle in the decoration of the saucer4.
It is the beakers from this service which are dated, bearing the date 1735. Other examples were sold in these Rooms on 5th December 1994, lot 224 and by Christie's Geneva on 16th November 1992, lot 350. 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.
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. 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.
4. See Thomas Iwe, 'Das Meissener Schokoladen-, Kaffee-, und Teeservice des Kurfürsten Clemens-August von Köln' Keramos (2005), No. 189/190, pp. 3-51.