Sunday, February 3, 2013

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: A Meissen Parrot, 1742

The famous Meissen modeller, and my personal favorite, J.J. Kändler was recorded in historical annals as having visited the menagerie housed at the royal Saxon hunting palace of Moritzburg briefly after joining the celebrated porcelain factory in 1731.

Kändler took great care in copying from life the rare and unusual creatures that were housed in the menagerie. The menagerie's magnificent aviaries afforded him an opportunity to produce models of all kinds of parrots, parakeets and cockatoos among the more vicious birds of prey which had been collected.

In the Eighteenth Century, exotic birds were admired not only for their exotic beauty, but their rarity. Such birds could only be seen in zoos or in the collections of very wealthy families. Therefore, these animals were considered symbols of extreme wealth. Rare birds were often included in artistic compositions to indicate vast riches and the wonders of the world.

So, it's only natural that Meissen would encourage Kändler to produce figures of the birds he had studied. Here we see one of these endeavors in this hard-paste porcelain parrot. It is very realistically modeled as it sits perched on a white tree stump with applied leaves and nuts or seeds. Its glorious plumage is painted in green, yellow, blue, puce and red enamels.

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