An important early Meissen figure of Augustus the Strong as Imperator, circa 1715

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Lot 18
An important early Meissen figure of Augustus the Strong as Imperator, circa 1715

Sold for £ 68,812 (US$ 91,797) inc. premium
An important early Meissen figure of Augustus the Strong as Imperator, circa 1715
Modelled by Johann Joachim Kretzschmar (1677-1740), probably decorated in the workshop of George Funcke, standing on a square base, the base, cuirass, his laurel wreath and facial features all picked out in gold, 10.5cm high (very minor wear to gilding, some narrow flat chips to edges of drapery)

Footnotes

  • Provenance:
    With Errol Manners

    Literature:
    R. Roos (ed.), Meissen SO-IL, exhibition catalogue, Kunsthal KAdE, Amsersfoort (2011), pp. 46-47

    Exhibited:
    Amersfoort, Kunsthal KAdE, 'Meissen SO-IL', 28 May-28 August 2011

    This and another figure depicting Augustus the Strong in Roman armour were likely conceived of as part of a chess set ordered by the Elector. They are first mentioned in a letter from Johann Friedrich Böttger of 9th September 1713, in which he refers to two 'Königs-Bilder oder kleine Statuen, als in Romanischer und Teütscher Kleidung...' [portraits of the king or small statues, in Roman and German costume] for one of two chess sets, one in porcelain and the second in 'LandEdelsteinen' [precious stones] (quoted by Johann Melchior Steinbrück, Bericht über die Porzellanmanufaktur Meißen von den Anfängen bis zum Jahre 1717, ch. 10). No other chess figures of this type are recorded, however, and it seems likely that only the two figures of the elector/king were subsequently produced, probably for use by the court as gifts. The 1719 inventories of the Dresden and Leipzig warehouses list 6 and 24 white 'königl. Statuen, respectively, as well as a number in production in the manufactory itself (C. Boltz, Steinzeug unf Porzellan der Böttgerperiode, in Keramos 167/168 (2000), p. 66).

    Böttger stoneware examples of this figure (in 'German' armour) survive in the Dresden porcelain collection (PE 890), the Kunstgewerbemuseum Berlin and the Dr. Ernst Schneider Collection in Schloss Lustheim; the production of Böttger stoneware is thought to have been discontinued after 1713 except for particular commissions for the court.

    Only very few examples of this figure in porcelain are recorded; see T.H. Clarke, August der Starke in Chatsworth, in Keramos 95 (1982), pp. 3-10): two white figures on higher pedestals (ills. 4-7); an example with a low pedestal similar to the present lot in the Royal Collection is decorated with gilt armour and flesh tones in the face (ills. 8 and 9 - attributed by the author to the Auffenwerth workshop in Augsburg); and another white example on a low base, formerly in the List Collection, Magdeburg (sold by Hans W. Lange, Berlin, 28-30 March 1939, lot 672). There are also several later examples with enamel decoration.

    This model was first attributed to the Dresden sculptor Johann Joachim Kretzschmar on stylistic grounds by Siegfried Asche (Die Dresdner Bildhauer des frühen achtzehnten Jahrhunderts als Meister des Böttgersteinzeugs und Böttgerporzellans, in Keramos 49 (1970), pp.82-89). The author compares the drapery and sculptural presence of the small figure to the larger garden statuary, especially to that of the lyrical Apollo in the Schlosspark in Hermsdorf, and the figures created by Kretzschmar for the Kronentor of the Zwinger in Dresden. Kretzschmar was a student of Balthasar Permoser in Dresden, who - in 1712 - secured him a position at the Dresden Court to complete the large amount of sculpture required for the newly-designed Zwinger in Dresden. From 1728 until his death he worked as court-sculptor but was largely overlooked in the canon of Dresden sculptors until his rehabilitation thanks to the research by Siegfried Asche in the 1960s.
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An important early Meissen figure of Augustus the Strong as Imperator, circa 1715
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