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  • Place of origin:

    Meissen (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1741 (made)
    1741 (modelled)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Eberlein, Johann Friedrich, born 1696 - died 1749 (modeller)
    Meissen porcelain factory (manufacturer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Hard-paste porcelain, painted in enamels and gilt

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mr W. A. J. Floersheim

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Ceramics, Room 139, The Curtain Foundation Gallery, case 23, shelf 5

The earliest porcelain figures were made for the dessert course of grand dinners and replaced the sugar paste and wax figures made since medieval times for royal feasts. Originally intended as expressions of dynastic power and to celebrate political allegiances, by the 16th century allegorical themes had been introduced into these table settings. By the 18th century many were entirely decorative. Meissen in Germany was the first factory to make porcelain figures for the dessert. It set the sculptural conventions followed by porcelain factories elsewhere.

This figure was produced at the Meissen porcelain factory around 1745. It depicts a young black woman wearing a form of rural peasant dress, with a peaked hat and holding a basket of flowers. Black Africans offered exotic associations and were a marker of luxury in Western European households; the dress of this figure also reflects a contemporary interest in the pastoral. In the 18th century about 10,000 Africans are estimated to have been living in England, for example. Many worked as, often unpaid, domestic staff.

Physical description

Hard-paste porcelain figure of a young black woman wearing what appears to be a form of European peasant dress with peaked hat and long robe, open at chest. Figure stands with her right hand touching her hat and holding a basket of flowers with her left. Flat irregular mound base with applied flowers.

Place of Origin

Meissen (made)


ca. 1741 (made)
1741 (modelled)


Eberlein, Johann Friedrich, born 1696 - died 1749 (modeller)
Meissen porcelain factory (manufacturer)

Materials and Techniques

Hard-paste porcelain, painted in enamels and gilt


Height: 14.5 cm

Descriptive line

Figure of black woman, modelled by J. F. Eberlein, 1741, made by Meissen porcelain factory, Germany, about 1741

Production Note

Attribution from the manuscript catalogue dates from about 1970 and was compiled by William Hutton of the Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio.


Hard paste porcelain


Painted; Gilded

Subjects depicted

Black History; Hat; Woman; Flowers; Robe; Basket; Pastoral


Black History; Ceramics; Figures & Decorative ceramics; Porcelain


Ceramics Collection

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