The incredible revival of Meissen porcelain – L’Express

The incredible revival of Meissen porcelain – LExpress

On April 17, in Paris, the Bonhams Cornette de Saint Cyr auction house offered a set of 56 porcelains from the Meissen factory from the collection of Hadrian Merkle, a German businessman. For nearly fifty years, the latter accumulated the most beautiful figurines, vases and most admirable pieces of tableware, focusing on 18th century creations, the most sought after on the market.

Created in 1710 by the prince-elector of Saxony, Augustus the Strong, following the discovery of the secret of manufacturing porcelain – until then a monopoly of China, which exported it to all the courts of Europe -, the Meissen factory enjoyed dazzling success. This craze is due to the painter Johann Gregor Höroldt (1696-1775) and the master model maker Johann Joachim Kändler (1706-1775) who designed hundreds of pieces of tableware and figurines which adorned the tables of kings and princes. Today vases, cups, chocolate pots, plates and various characters, including the famous “cries of Paris” representing the small trades of the capital, are exhibited in the windows of collectors and museums.

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18th century pieces for less than 10,000 euros

The aesthetic of the tableware and vases is inspired by China, with a touch of baroque. The characters and animals – including the most famous musical monkeys – are resolutely rococo. For a long time, these porcelains had the kitsch image of objects prized by grandmothers. This is no longer the case today. The most beautiful pieces fetch high prices. In the Merkle sale, a lady with a crinoline, created according to a model by Kändler, estimated at 20,000 to 30,000 euros, found a buyer for 127,400 euros. The most beautiful lots all exceeded 50,000 euros.

But you can buy cheaper. At auctions as well as at specialized antique dealers – the largest specialist being the Röbbig gallery in Munich, and to a lesser extent the Béalu and Vandermeersch galleries in Paris – you can find pretty 18th century pieces for prices less than 10,000 euros, or even 5,000 euros. With a limited budget, you can look at beautiful examples from the 19th century, available from 2,000 euros. And if you are taken, as the elector of Saxony said, by “porcelain disease”, you will have to participate in the next sales of the Merkle collection. One will be held at Bonhams Cornette de Saint Cyr in October 2024, and the other in spring 2025.