A highly importatnt Meissen garniture of vases  Circa 1748
Lot 80
A highly important and monumental Meissen allegorical garniture representing the Elements
circa 1748
Sold for £ 389,600 (US$ 545,765) inc. premium

Lot Details
A highly important and monumental Meissen allegorical garniture representing the Elements circa 1748 A highly importatnt Meissen garniture of vases  Circa 1748
A highly important and monumental Meissen allegorical garniture representing the Elements
circa 1748
Modelled by Johann Joachim Kaendler, emblematic of the Elements, comprising
as a pierced ovoid basketwork vase modelled with rocailles edged in gilding and puce and a similar scroll handle with coloured feathers at the base, mounted on a scroll-moulded base applied with a winged putto with blown-up cheeks and holding a bellows, the cover modelled with gilt- and purple-edged scrollwork and clouds enclosing a finial embellished in gilding;
as an ovoid basketwork eel-trap with a flared neck flanked by water reeds, applied with a putto at the shoulder holding an eel emerging from the cage through a door, mounted on a similar flared base with reeds and moulded with water, applied with another putto holding a net filled with fish and eels and a fish in the right hand;
as a rocky outcrop applied with branches and leaves, including a tree-trunk handle to one side with a squirrel perched on the top, a bear perched on a rocky ledge eating leaves on the opposite side, the cover modelled as a high rocky mound applied with leaves and grasses and two eagles and a leafy tree to the side, all mounted on a base of grassy rockwork and gilt-edged rocailles, applied with a putto digging with a spade and a crocodile advancing on a nesting bird at the rear;
as an ovoid vessel bound with cords, moulded with flames and applied all over with shoots of flame issuing from apertures, applied on one side with a winged dragon and on the other with a gilt-edged rocaille handle, the cover similarly modelled with a finial composed of a burst of flames, mounted on a base of gilt-edged rocailles applied with a putto holding a flaming torch, Air: 82cm high; Water: 73.5cm high; Earth: 87.5cm high; Fire: 83cm high, crossed swords marks in underglaze-blue to edge of bases of Fire, Air and Water (some damage and restoration) (7)


  • Provenance:
    German private collection, acquired in the early to mid 1950s;
    Thence by descent

    This monumental garniture - the largest of several versions modelled by Kaendler depicting the Elements - was created for Heinrich Graf von Brühl in Summer and Autumn of 1748. This is the only such garniture known and, given the considerable cost and technical difficulties involved in its manufacture, it is likely to be the very garniture supplied to Brühl.

    Three of the vases are recorded in detail in Kaendler's work notes (Arbeitsberichte, p. 123-124). Although there is no mention of the fourth vase, emblematic of Water, it may be that it was modelled in July, for which the record is missing.

    Air - August 1748:
    Eine große Vase von 7. Viertel Ell. hoch Vor Ihre Hoch Reichs gräfl. des Herren Premieur Ministers Von Brühl Excellenz bestellet. Es stellet solches Stück die Lufft Vor und ist Wegen seiner all zu großen höhe in 3. Theile getheilet um desto besser damit zu reussiren. Es befinden sich aber an deßen Postament Viele Mühsamen ornamenta. Worauf ein genius sietzet Elcher mit dem Munde bläset und einen blase balk in Händen hält. Oben darauf stehet ein großer Vogel gebauer mit Vielen Zierathen durch brochen. Worauf Zu gleich ein Vogel sitzet in aller hand Lufft gewölcke und Zieraten. Welches alles aufs Sauberste aus Poußiret ist.

    Fire - September 1748:
    Ein großes aufsatz stück in gestalt einer Vase Vor Ihro Hoch Reichs gräfl. des H. Premieur Ministri Von Brühl Excellenz, Welches das Element des Feuers Vorstellet, Modelliret. Es befindet sich auf einem sehr zierlichen Postament ein großer Feuer Pallen Welcher nach einem natürlicheen imidiret, Wie Selbiger Zerspringet, also oben und allen halben mit Feuer Flammen umgeben ist. An diesem Feuer Pallen ist auch ein großer feuriger Drache zu sehen, Welcher aus Mund und Nase Feuer speyet, auf der Seite sind die feinsten ornamenta befindl. Worinnen sich der Feuer Pallen hält. Unten auf dem Postament ist ein laufender genius mit einer brennenden Fackel, und kann dieses große auf satz stück aus 3. Theile aus einander genommen Werden.

    Earth - October 1748
    Ein großen auf satz Stück 1. Ell. und 18 Zoll hoch Vor Ihro Hoch Reichß gräfl. des Herren Premieur Ministri Von Brühl Excellenc Welches das Element der Erde Vorstellet. Es ist selbiges in gestalt einer Vase von Unten bis oben hinaus aufs Zierlichste mit Felßenm Erdreich, ästen, Mooß, und dergleichen Vorgebildet auf dem Postament stehet ein genius mit dem grabe Scheite Welcher gräbet ferner kömmbt ein Fuchß aus einer Klufft hervor gekrochen, oben auf der Vase sietzet ein genius welcher Steine abhaut, Welches alles aufs beste aus poußiret ist.

    One year earlier, in Summer and Autumn of 1747, Kaendler had created a smaller-scale version of this garniture (between circa 58cm and 67cm high, which has sometimes erroneously been thought to represent the garniture made for Count Brühl), of which several are recorded, included the example formerly in the collection of Nelson Rockefeller (Sotheby's New York, 11 April 1980, lot 157) and the garniture now in the Große Orangerie, Potsdam (Wittwer 2010, ill. 55, p. 64). No other garniture is recorded in the literature, and only a single, unpainted example of the 'Air' vase, in the collection of the Kunstgewerbemuseum in Dresden prior to WWII, is recorded (Zimmermann 1926, pl. 47, p.181, where it is thought to be part of the smaller garniture).
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  1. Nette Megens
    Specialist - European Ceramics
    101 New Bond Street
    London, United Kingdom W1S 1SR
    Work +44 20 7468 8348
    FaxFax: +44 20 7468 8252
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