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Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
British Galleries, Room 53a

Figure

ca. 1750-1755 (made), ca. 1750 (modelled)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Object Type
This German porcelain figure was made to accompany a shepherdess. Idealised representations of shepherds and shepherdesses, often fashionably dressed, were very popular in mid-18th century Europe. In Britain such figures might have been displayed on a domestic furnishing, or, as in Germany, they might have been set out on a dining table during the dessert course of a grand meal. Meissen was the first factory to make porcelain figures for this purpose. They gradually replaced the sugar paste and wax figures that had been made from medieval times for royal wedding feasts. These were originally made to celebrate political allegiances. By the 16th century, allegorical themes had been introduced, and by the 18th century many were entirely decorative.

Trading
Continental porcelain could not be legally imported for sale in Britain until 1775, unless it was stated to be for personal use, not for resale. Despite this, in the 1750s large quantities of Meissen porcelain were sold in London china shops. Much of this was imported under the pretence that it was for personal use, but some was smuggled in. Meissen porcelain was greatly admired in mid-18th century Britain, and the English porcelain factories made many close copies of Meissen figures and wares.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Hard-paste porcelain, painted in enamels and gilt
Brief Description
Figure of a shepherd playing bagpipes, hard-paste porcelain painted in enamels and gilt, probably modelled by J. J. Kändler, about 1750, made by Meissen porcelain factory, Germany, ca. 1750-55
Physical Description
Figure of a shepherd playing bagpipes, of hard-paste porcelain. Striding man with stump support. At his feet a lying sheep, dog and a grazing sheep. High rococo-scrolled base. Painted with enamel colours and gilt, the costume puce, pale yellow and sea-green with puce Indian flowers.
Dimensions
  • Height: 25.8cm
  • Approx. width: 13.9cm
Marks and Inscriptions
Crossed swords (Factory mark in blue, behind base)
Gallery Label
British Galleries: MEISSEN FIGURE OF A SHEPHERD and its imitation
The German Meissen factory invented the porcelain figure and established its use in table and interior decoration. Meissen introduced figure styles and subjects that the English factories followed until about 1770. Despite import restrictions and duties, Meissen porcelain was readily available and widely copied in England.(27/03/2003)
Credit line
Given by Mr W. A. J. Floersheim
Production
Attribution from the manuscript catalogue dates from about 1970 and was compiled by William Hutton of the Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio.
Subjects depicted
Summary
Object Type
This German porcelain figure was made to accompany a shepherdess. Idealised representations of shepherds and shepherdesses, often fashionably dressed, were very popular in mid-18th century Europe. In Britain such figures might have been displayed on a domestic furnishing, or, as in Germany, they might have been set out on a dining table during the dessert course of a grand meal. Meissen was the first factory to make porcelain figures for this purpose. They gradually replaced the sugar paste and wax figures that had been made from medieval times for royal wedding feasts. These were originally made to celebrate political allegiances. By the 16th century, allegorical themes had been introduced, and by the 18th century many were entirely decorative.

Trading
Continental porcelain could not be legally imported for sale in Britain until 1775, unless it was stated to be for personal use, not for resale. Despite this, in the 1750s large quantities of Meissen porcelain were sold in London china shops. Much of this was imported under the pretence that it was for personal use, but some was smuggled in. Meissen porcelain was greatly admired in mid-18th century Britain, and the English porcelain factories made many close copies of Meissen figures and wares.
Collection
Accession Number
C.147-1931

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record createdMarch 27, 2003
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