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Möllendorf service

  • Object:

    Cruet, cover and stand

  • Place of origin:

    Meissen (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1761 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Kändler, Johann Joachim, born 1706 - died 1775 (designer)
    Meissen porcelain factory (manufacturer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Hard-paste porcelain with moulded and applied decoration, painted in enamels and gilded

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased with the assistance of the Captain H. B. Murray Bequest

  • Museum number:

    C.242 to B-1921

  • Gallery location:

    Europe 1600-1815, Room 3, case CA6 []

This piece is from a dinner service made at the Meissen porcelain factory in Saxony, Germany, for Frederick the Great of Prussia around 1761. Frederick the Great had visited Meissen several times, placed orders with the factory, received gifts of Meissen porcelain from Augustus III, the Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, and had plans to establish his own rival factory at Berlin before his Prussian forces occupied Saxony for the second time in 1756. Frederick ordered several table services from Meissen during the Prussian occupation of Saxony in the early 1760s. These were intended for his personal use, and he directed and oversaw their design. Artistically this service of 1761, now known as the Möllendorf Service, is the most important.

Many of the tableware shapes and the low relief moulded decoration of the Möllendorf Service were repeated from an earlier service of 1760, which was decorated at Frederick’s order with the same floral cartouches enclosing musical instruments and emblems of war. The handles on the tureen covers of both services were modelled either as Minerva, symbolizing the intelligent conduct of war and wise governance in peacetime, or as nymphs with flowers, fruit, corn or pitchers of wine. This earlier service was in turn inspired by another one, made for Count Bruhl, Prime Minister of Saxony, in 1742. Frederick stipulated in 1761 that his new service should be painted in the combination of the special red enamel and gold reserved at Meissen ‘for the Saxon ruler.’ The design and decoration were therefore in part taken from Saxon court services made for his subdued adversaries, and were politically charged.

The service was begun in 1761, and originally comprised 697 pieces, including 144 dinner plates and 48 soup plates. Dessert plates and possibly also the multi-part plat de ménage (centrepiece with lemon baskets and cruets) were added in 1763. In 1781 Frederick gave the service to General Wichard von Möllendorf, and as a consequence it is now generally known as the Möllendorf Service.

Physical description

Cruet, cover and stand of hard-paste porcelain, from a plat de ménage (centrepiece), part of the Möllendorf dinner service.

Place of Origin

Meissen (made)


ca. 1761 (made)


Kändler, Johann Joachim, born 1706 - died 1775 (designer)
Meissen porcelain factory (manufacturer)

Materials and Techniques

Hard-paste porcelain with moulded and applied decoration, painted in enamels and gilded

Marks and inscriptions

Crossed swords
Factory mark, in underglaze blue

Object history note

Part of a dinner service (Möllendorf service), C.238 to 256-1921. Partly designed by Frederick the Great of Prussia.

Descriptive line

Cruet, cover and stand, part of the Möllendorf dinner service, hard-paste porcelain with moulded and applied decoration, painted in enamels and gilded, designed by J.J. Kändler, made by Meissen porcelain factory, Germany, ca. 1761.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Banz, Claudia, ed. Triumph of the Blue Swords. Dresden, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, 2010.275p. ill.

Labels and date

Meissen Service for Frederick the Great

This dinner service originally comprised over 685 pieces, each with matching decoration as in a modern table service. The set illustrates how dining habits changed in the 18th century. It is made of porcelain, which increasingly replaced silver at grand meals. It features tureens for the new, fashionable soups French chefs had introduced, and grand centrepieces made for condiments. These would have dominated the table.

Part dinner service
Cruets for oil and vinegar
About 1761–63

Salads made with raw vegetables and herbs were an essential part of the new French cuisine. They were usually dressed with oil, vinegar and salt, a combination that dates from classical times.

Germany (Dresden)
Made at the Meissen factory
Made for and under the direction of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, and modelled by Johann Joachim Kändler
Porcelain painted in enamels and gilded
Purchased with funds from the Captain H.B. Murray Bequest


Hard paste porcelain


Painted; Gilded; Moulded; Applied work

Subjects depicted

Scale pattern; Flowers; Grapes; Musical instruments


Ceramics; Porcelain; Eating; Food vessels & Tableware


Ceramics Collection

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