Augustus the Strong was closely involved not only in the design of the rooms in the Japanese Palace but also the composition of the menagerie; evidence survives in the factory records that he had also indicated source models and drawings which he wished to factory to draw inspiration from. Like many sculptors of the period, Kirchner was accustomed to working from print sources. The source for Kirchner's lions has not yet been identified, however it is interesting to compare the present examples with Francis Barlow's engravings for Aesop's Fables (London, 1666). Wittwer illustrates an engraving of a lion by Stefano della Bella from the series diversi animali (Paris, 1641).
These regal animals are modelled in such a way that the lions' tufts of fur, wide-eyed expression and furrowed brows give them a sensitive, almost human appearance, typical of Kirchner's style. Samuel Wittwer likens the flowing mane to an unkempt Baroque wig1.
Of the large-scale quadrupeds only the lion and lioness and the Billy-goat and Nanny-goat and kid appear to be made as pairs, with the male and female mirroring each other in pose. Both companion models were also conceived in the same year, 1732. Male and female pairs throughout the menagerie are unusual, counter-parts in the avianhÔine being a pheasant cock and hen and turkey cock and hen.
For similar examples see Hermann Schmitz, Ole Olsen's Art Collections, (Munich, 1927) Vol. II, nos. 1352a & b; Joachim Menzhauzen, et. al., 'Königliches Dresden, Höfische Kunst im 18. Jahrhundert', Catalogue, (Munich, 1990), cat. nos. 243 and 244; Ingelore Menzhausen, In Porzellan verzaubert, Die Figuren Johann Joachim Kändlers in Meissen aus der sammlung Pauls-Eisenbeiss, Basel (Basel, 1993) p. 19; Samuel Wittwer, 'A Royal Menagerie, Meissen Porcelain Animals', Catalogue (Amsterdam, 2000), figs. 26 & 27; and Samuel Wittwer, The Gallery of Meissen Animals, Augustus the Strong's Menagerie for the Japanese Palace in Dresden, (Munich, 2006), pp. 174-175, pp.312-313 for a discussion of the models, and p.108 for a discussion of the Longleat model signed 'Friezsch' by the repairer George Fritzsche.
Other known examples:
Dresden Porcelain Collection, two of each example.
Longleat, Marquess of Bath, one lion (perhaps formerly the property of David Falcke, his sale Christie & Manson, April 19th 1858, lot 1456 (withdrawn))
National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, one lion.
Metropolitian Museum of Art, New York, one of each example (formerly in the Collection of The Earl of Longford, Tullynally Castle, Co. Westmeath, Ireland).
Private Collection, one of each example (sold Johanneum duplicate sale, Rudolph Lepke, Berlin, 7th & 8th October 1919, then Ole Olsen, his sale Winkell & Magnussen, Copenhagen, May 1948, lot 241, then the Honourable Lady Cary, sale Sotheby's, 15th November 1955, lot 65).
Kunstgewerbmuseum, Berlin, one lioness (sold Johanneum duplicate sale, Rudolph Lepke, Berlin, 7th & 8th October 1919), now war loss.
1. Samuel Wittwer, op. cit., p. 174.
TWO MEISSEN WHITE MODELS OF A LION AND LIONESS
THE ROYAL HOUSE OF SAXONY
These extraordinary pieces of Meissen porcelain are offered on the market for the first time since their manufacture in the early 18th century. Commissioned by a member of the House of Wettin A. L. (Albertine Line), a family name synonymous with the history of Saxony and the Royal Houses of Europe, they are now offered for sale on behalf of the descendents of this noble and distinguished line.
THE HOUSE OF WETTIN
EARLY HISTORY, 982-1485
The house of Wettin derives its name from the town and castle on the river Saale in the modern-day Bundesland of Saxony-Anhalt. It was thought its origins dated back to the Saxon chief Widukind or Witterkind ( circa 807) or to Burchard, Margrave of Thuringia ( circa 908). However, the earliest reliable founding father is traceable to Diedrik, Count of Hassegau ( 982). His sons, Dedo I and Friedrich, were given lands in the gau of Wettin, which were passed through the male line to Diedrik II, who married Matilda, daughter of Ekkard II, Margrave of Meissen. The title eventually passed to Thimo, cousin of Henrich I, 'the Illustrious', and son of Dedo II. It was Thimo who was responsible for the construction of the castle at Wettin, and he took it as his name. Thimo's son, Konrad, claimed the title Margrave of Meissen after the death of Heinrich II in 1123 and secured the title between about 1127 and 1130. In 1135 Lower Lustia was added to the possessions of the Wettin family. When Konrad abdicated in 1156 his lands were divided between his five sons and the county of Wettin was left to his fourth son Heinrich, who died childless in 1217. The town, castle and lands passed to Konrad's youngest son, Friedrich; it was his descendents who, in 1288, sold them to the Archbishop of Magdeburg. Konrad's grandson, Diedrik, added to the family's position by marrying the heiress of the Landgrave of Thuringia. This advantageous marriage, coupled with the extinction of the Ascanian Dukes of Saxony increased the standing and power of the House of Wettin.
The Middle Ages saw a gradual rise in the status of the Wettin family, culminating in 1423 with the confirmation in Budapest by Emperor Sigismund, of the rank of Elector to Friedrich VI, Margrave of Meissen (variously known as the Warlike and the Pugnacious) who became Friedrich I, Elector of Saxony. Thus the title Elector of Saxony was bestowed on him and his descendants. However, the subsequent generations of the family went through bitter divisions. Elector Friedrich I had three sons, two of whom, Friedrich II 'the Mild' and Wilhelm, Landgrave of Thuringia, fought over their father's lands. It was Friedrich's sons, Ernst and Albrecht who, after the death of their uncle Wilhelm III of Thuringia, would divide the House of Wettin and its lands forever. Following the Division of Leipzig, Ernst, the elder brother, received the power of the Electorship and had his seat at Wittenberg. His younger brother Albrecht der Behertze became Duke of Saxony and retained the title Margrave of Meissen, and heoversaw his lands in Saxony from Dresden.
THE ERNESTINE AND ALBERTINE LINES, 1485-1694
This treaty of 1485 marks the division of the family into the Ernestine and the Albertine branches. However the title of Elector passed from the Ernestine branch to Moritz (grandson of Albrecht III) of the Albertine line (Albertinische Linie). The Ernestine branch had been ardent supporters of the Protestant movement with Friedrich the Wise being Martin Luther's patron. It was at Wittenberg that Martin Luther nailed his famous ninety-five theses to the door of the cathedral. Johann Friedrich I was a staunch supporter of the Reformation, but following his capture by the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V at Mülberg (24th April 1547), he was forced to assign his Electoral title to Moritz, head of the Albertine line. Moritz fought on the Catholic Emperor's side during the Schmalkaldic War against his cousins. In a dramatic about-turn, Moritz sided with the Protestant princes against Charles, capturing the Emperor near Innsbruck, thereby forcing him to release his cousin Johann Friedrich and later his father-in-law, Philipp 'the Magnanimous', of Hesse.
Following Moritz's death, his brother August became Elector. Under him, Saxony went through a social and economic boom and he was the first Elector to build the artistic and scientific collections at Dresden. He promoted commerce and agriculture as well as promoting the mining of coal which his brother had introduced. Subsequent Electors of Saxony, Christian I and Christian II showed little interest in politics; Christian's brother Johann Georg I inherited the title after his brother's untimely demise. His rule was defined by the Thirty Years War (1616-48) in which he first supported Ferdinand II during the Bohemian phase of the war (1618-23) to enhance his position among the German princes, and then fought with the forces of Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden during the Swedish phase of the war (1630-35).
Johann Georg II and Johann Georg III continued to regenerat and develop Dresden as the cultural capital of Saxony, and they re-enforced Saxony as one of the leading military powers in Europe. Following the death of Johann Friedrich IV in 1694 after only three years in power, the title passed to his younger brother Friedrich August I. In 1697 was elevated to King of the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth and became Augustus II, King of Poland, known as the Strong (der Starke). It was he who commissioned the porcelain menagerie for the Japanese Palace.
THE AUGUSTAN PERIOD, 1694-1763
AUGUSTUS II, THE STRONG AND AUGUSTUS III, ELECTORS OF SAXONY AND KINGS OF POLAND
Friedrich Augustus, younger son of Johann Georg III and Princess Anna Sophie of Denmark, succeeded his brother in 1694 and within two years Friedrich August's ambition was to reveal itself. Following the death in 1696 of Jan III Sobieski, King of Poland, the elected throne became vacant. The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was the second largest land mass in Europe and would provide the future King with a coastal border on the Baltic. Friedrich August sought to increase the position of the Wettin family by succeeding to the Polish throne as head of an elected commonwealth of voivodships or provinces. The rivals for the Polish throne included a Polish candidate, Jakub Sobieski; he and the Austrian contender soon dropped out of the competition and the main contest was between the Saxon Elector and the duc de Conti. En route to Warsaw, the French rival was shipwrecked off the coast of Danzig leaving Friedrich August to claim the title. The election of Friedrich August I Elector of Saxony elevated him to Augustus II, King of Poland (henceforth in this introduction he will be referred to as Augustus II or Augustus the Strong). In order to secure the Polish crown, it was necessary for Augustus II to convert to Roman Catholicism, which in the context of a largely Protestant state was astounding. The importance of this conversion cannot be overstated, especially in light of his only son's later conversion to Roman Catholicism and indeed his marriage into the Habsburgian line. It reveals a driving ambition and a desire for power and recognition.
Augustus soon looked to extend his territories beyond Saxony and Poland, particularly through his newly acquired naval capabilities. Augustus the Strong became embroiled in a contest between Peter I, the Great, of Russia and Karl XII of Sweden in a conflict which became known as the Great Northern War (1700-21), which was mostly fought on the battlefields of Poland. In an alliance with Frederik IV of Denmark and Peter the Great, Augustus and his allies sought to seize control of the Baltic from Sweden. The Swedish king proved a more formidable opponent than the triumvirate had reckoned and he quickly forced the Danes out of the war. The Russian army were forced back after a disastrous attack on Narva in 1700 and Augustus was defeated at Riga in June of the following year. So intent was Karl XII on removing Augustus from the Polish throne, that he invaded Poland and inflicted several defeats on the Polish-Saxon army. This resulted in the deposition of Augustus and the installation of a more malleable ruler in the form of Stanislaw Leszczynski. The Swedish forces hounded Augustus, ultimately invading Saxony in 1706. This dogged pursuit left a revitalised Russian force free to capture the Swedish provinces of Livonia and Ingria where in 1703, the city of St. Petersburg was founded. The Swedish army was finally defeated by Peter and his forces at the Battle of Poltava in Ukraine. Augustus was re-instated to the Polish throne, but under the protectorate of Russia. Augustus tried to establish the Polish title into the Wettin line but was opposed by the Polish nobility who wished it to remain a non-hereditary elected position; by 1715-16 open warfare existed between Augustus and his opponents. This act allowed Peter I of Russia to step in as mediator between the two sides and establish Russian influence in the region. In 1717 at a meeting known as the 'Silent Sjem' or 'Dumb Diet', both sides were effectively rendered politically and militarily impotent and ultimately led to the break-up of the Republic, with Russia taking the majority of the spoils.
Ironically Augustus's son Friedrich August II, Elector of Saxony did become King Augustus III of Poland following his father's death in 1733. He was elected with the support of Russian and Austrian forces, and ascended to the Polish throne in 1734; which resulted in the War of the Polish Succession. Like his father, he too converted to Catholicism (1721) to be eligible for the Polish throne in spite of having been raised as a Lutheran by his mother Christiane Eberhardine, Margravine of Brandenburg-Bayreuth. Augustus III showed little interest in politics and Polish affairs, delegating much of his administrative responsibilities and powers to Counts Heinrich von Brühl and Alexander Joseph von Sulkowski. He had married Archduchess Maria Josepha of Austria in 1719 by whom he had fourteen children. His third son, Frederick Christian, inherited the Electoral title briefly in the year of his father's death in 1763 but died very shortly after leaving Saxony in disarray. Augustus III's grandson, Friedrich August III did much to rejuvenate Saxony; under threat of invasion from Prussia he concentrated on the Electorate and even turned down the Polish crown which his forbears had prized so highly.
AUGUSTUS THE STRONG AS COLLECTOR AND PATRON
"The vaults of this palace consist of fourteen apartments, filled with China and Dresden porcelain; one would image there was sufficient quantity to stock a whole country"
Jonas Hanway, An Historical Account of the British Trade over the Caspian Sea (London, 1753)
Augustus is widely known as 'the Strong' not only for his great physical strength - he was reputedly able to break a horse shoe with his bare hands - but also for his virility; he is alleged to have sired between 365 and 382 children with various mistresses. He is perhaps best remembered as a connoisseur and patron of the arts.
As a young man, Augustus the Strong had, like many noble heirs, embarked on a Grand Tour of Europe (1687-9). He had been impressed by the Court at Versailles which he visited during his tour and had witnessed an absolutist monarchy at first hand. Louis XIV (r. 1643-1715) ruled over the most powerful nation in Europe and embraced the principles of 'absolutism', although towards the end of his life he became disillusioned with the theory and saw it as an unattainable ideal. Augustus was clearly affected by the power and splendour of the court, and the authority it exercised over the French aristocracy. He would seek to impose his authority at his seat in Dresden through appropriate architecture and beautifully managed artistic display. His court had a reputation throughout Europe for luxurious and extravagant entertaining. The head of the court was an enthusiastic participant in all of the pursuits typically associated with the royal and noble families of Europe during the Baroque era.
It is as a porcelain collector that he is particularly noted, like many of his contemporaries, he was infected with the 'porcelain fever' that swept Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries. Augustus acquired porcelain from Dutch dealers for his own collection and as gifts, but seems to have increased his consumption after a visit to the Prussian Court in 1709. During this visit, which evoked memories of his tour of the French court, the sight of the porcelain rooms at Oranienburg, Caputh and Charlottenburg impressed upon Augustus the prestige and status that a fine collection of porcelain conferred upon the owner 1. Indeed a direct link between porcelain and electoral power can be seen in the acquisition of one-hundred and fifty pieces of porcelain from the Prussian collection in 1717. Augustus exchanged six hundred of his own men from the Saxon army in order to secure the collection, which included the famous 'dragoon vases'. Augustus added to the collection from several sources: purchases and gifts from Saxon and European nobility, pieces bought on the open market (usually through agents), and pieces from his own factory at Meissen.
THE HISTORY OF THE JAPANESE PALACE, 1717-82
The building which was to become known as the Japanese Palace was acquired by Augustus II in 1717. The owner, Count Jakob Heinrich von Flemming, a Field Marshal in the Saxon army and member of the Privy Council, exchanged the palace for land worth 100,000 Thalers. Known then as the Holländisches Palais, it was situated on the banks of the River Elbe in Neustadt. The name Holländisches Palais or Dutch Palace, was possibly derived from the style of the furnishing or perhaps from the previous tenant, Johan van Haersolte Heer van Kranenburg, envoy of the Netherlands in Dresden. Augustus furnished the palace with porcelain, but soon the idea of creating a porcelain palace began to emerge. Inspired by tales from the East of palaces made of porcelain, and by his visit to the palaces of Prussia, Augustus began to move parts of the Kunstkammer to the palace. In 1719 Augustus hosted a celebration of the marriage of his son, Prince Friedrich August II, to Maria Josepha of Austria at the Dutch Palace and was clearly delighted with his new residence. It was to be seen as a centrepiece to his string of castles and palaces in and around Dresden, decorated with the aim of impressing his guests. The palace was used to host a number of celebrations in the 1720s; according to contemporary sources, the Palace was referred to as the Japanischen Palais from as early as 17202. In 1722 further plots of land around the grounds were purchased and it became possible to extend the area in front of the palace to fit with the owner's grand design.
In 1725 or slightly later, plans emerged to extend and convert the Dutch Palace to house the Royal porcelain collection. Augustus had initially planned to use Schloss Pillnitz for this purpose and was personally involved with overseeing designs and suggesting decorative schemes for displaying his collection. Count Wackerbarth, the Director of Building works, engaged the services of Zacharias Longuelune to draw up plans for the refurbishment and expansion. Work did not begin until about 1729, after several changes including the addition of a fourth wing to the initial three-wing plan and a change of leadership in the building department, now under Jean de Bodt. Johann Georg Keyssler, whose eye-witness accounts of building in Dresden have proved invaluable to scholars, records the project was orchestrated by Jean de Bodt with three Oberlandbaumeistern "Pöpelmann, Longlue and Knevel"3 (sic). Once the remodelling work had begun, it continued at some speed. By February 1733 work on the façade was complete and Augustus II made his customary inspection of progress before he set off for Poland, a trip from which he would not return.
Following Augustus the Strong's death, work on the Japanese Palace project slowed. Under Augustus III, the Meissen factory produced vast quantities of porcelain for the Royal household. Augustus III continued with many of his father's plans in an around Dresden; however the original plans for the interior of the Japanese Palace were given up in about 1740. Orders from Meissen for the project slowed because the factory argued that it was impossible to compete for other commissions, due to the drain on resources that the Japanese Palace project made on the factory. A contemporary source describing a visit to the Japanese Palace in 1744 comments on its unfinished state, the explanation being that "the late king of blessèd memory, who had been a great lover of magnificence, had died while it was still being completed, and the present king was a sleepy character who took no trouble about these things"4
Though the building was maintained, it effectively became a store during the Seven Years' War (1756-63) and was not given a specific purpose until 1782 when it was made a public museum to display the collection of antiquities, and later the coin collection and state library.
THE DESIGN AND METAPHOR OF THE JAPANESE PALACE COLLECTION
"...we were taken to the large hall which had been designed to be a mirror-roomand this mirror-wall had been fitted from top to bottom with carved and gilded pedestals not far from each other on which various four-footed animals and birds of prey in porcelain were standing, done life-size according to nature."
Pastor Johann Christian Müller of Stralsund, a description of the Japanese Palace in 1744.
The designs for the exterior and interior of the Japanese Palace were intended not only to impress visitors, but to convey power, authority and other kingly virtues. The Palace was filled with Oriental porcelain and the products of the Meissen factory, grouped together by colour and style and specifically to fit with the colour schemes of each room. Each wall covering and ground colour would convey a particular attribute in a particular order to the onlooker.
We are left an intriguing contemporary account of the development of the design for the Japanese Palace by Johann Georg Keyssler in correspondence published in his travel guide to the latest travels through Germany, Bohemia, Hungary, Switzerland, Italy and Lorraine. In a passage on news from Dresden, he describes a visit to inspect progress on work at the Japanese Palace in a letter of 23rd October 17305. He gives valuable information relating to the refurbishment as well as a background to the production of porcelain at Meissen. Perhaps most relevant to the concept behind the Palace is his description of the visitor's progress through the rooms leading to the throne room. The idea of grouping the porcelain together is first seen in notes made on the designs for Schloss Pillnitz, where Augustus the Strong had initially intended to house the Royal Porcelain Collection. It is clear from plans dating from about 1722 for Schloss Pillnitz, hand written notes by Augustus the Strong for the Japanese Palace (circa 1728) and Longuelune's floor plan for the Japanese Palace from circa 17356, that the grouping of wares in the collection was of particular importance to the Elector and that he was involved in the designs.
Keyssler was able to obtain detailed information about the future plans for the Palace, much of which did not get beyond the planning stage. However, his account does give an insight into the aspirations of Augustus the Strong. In his 1730 work he states that the ground floor of the Japanese Palace was to be decorated with Chinese and Japanese porcelain. He gives a much more detailed and vivid account of the upper storey, a storey with rooms nearly twice the height of the ground floor. When describing the first room he reveals that it is one hundred and seventy feet long and was intended to be filled with "all kinds of local and foreign birds and animals in pure porcelain, in their natural size and colour; the figures which have already been finished are of such artistry and beauty that one cannot admire them enough.". Between the animals "red vessels of various kinds" were scattered. The second room was to be furnished with celadon coloured porcelain and the third with bright yellow porcelain. The fourth hall was intended to house dark blue porcelain and the next room puce coloured porcelain. This was followed by an impressive gallery two hundred and sixty feet in length which was home to the famous "carillon" or Glockenspiel which used porcelain bells. It was to share the hall with a collection of Meissen porcelain decorated in the "ancient Indian style". The next room was to be filled with grey porcelain and was anteroom to a dining room adorned with porcelain in "bleu-mourant" . Off the dining room was room reserved for the "buffet" and was beautified with green porcelain. The tenth room, the Royal bedchamber, was particularly luxurious in its decoration, the bed and wall-hangings being adorned with feathers from exotic birds and punctuated with porcelain "the colour of peach-blossom". Finally he describes the chapel which was to be entirely furnished with gilded white porcelain including the pulpit, the organ pipes, the altar and a set of figures of the twelve apostles. Like much of the project, this ambitious chapel was not to come to fruition.
The animal sculptures were loaded with symbolism and were chosen not as a complete scientific survey or 'Noah's Ark', but almost as an allegory of court life and society as a whole. By the summer of 1730, Augustus had formulated a plan to sequence the colours in his ante chambers and ordering the chosen animal models in an imposed humanist hierarchy. As Baroque sculpture often focused on the elite of human society, e.g. saints, religious figures and noblemen, these animal sculptures may have been intended to represent a broader cross-section of society. The menagerie and the porcelain collection as a whole were intended to amaze and surprise the visitor and impress upon them the power of the Prince, both physical and political as well as economic, his cultural and philosophical richness and, perhaps most importantly, the superiority of Meissen porcelain. The visitor would work their way through the various chambers ultimately to be confronted with the Prince in his throne room. The whole experience was stage-managed to produce the desired unequivocal effect; the presentation of Augustus and his line as absolute ruler.
THE ROLE OF THE MENAGERIE IN THE COURTS OF BAROQUE EUROPE
The Saxon court staged lavish and highly extravagant parades and celebrations to honour and glorify its Prince. They served the important purpose of re-affirming his wealth, importance and power to local nobility and visitors. Such pageants had a great impact on guests and a wider throng of spectators. The use of live wild and exotic animals on these occasions was intended not only to astonish the crowd, but demonstrate the Prince's power over the creatures; the symbolic significance of the animals used would not have been lost on the audience. Contemporary accounts of such events at Schloss Moritzburg talk of processions using popular themes such as the Four Quarters of the Globe in which figures in exotic national costume are accompanied by "lions, tigers, bears, parrots, all manner of monkeys, and the like"7. Specimens from the Prince's own collection were used and lent a sense of opulence and exoticism, but also served to demonstrate the power of the Prince over wild animals, therefore serving as an allegory of princely order.
During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the keeping of animals by noblemen served the dual purpose of supplying game for hunting parks and as a show of wealth and status. It was very much in keeping with the Baroque idea of man bringing order to the world. A menagerie would be a great attraction to visiting dignitaries, and the viewing of touring shows of exotic animals would certainly not be seen as being beneath the nobility. The court of Louis XIV at Versailles was the first to bring a Royal collection of animals together in one location, rather than having different animals from the collection grouped by category at various locations. The enclosures radiated around a chateau at the hub of which honoured guests would aspire to be invited to observe the animals in nature. In typical 'absolutist' style, the menagerie at Versailles was an allegory of the state with the King, at the centre, bringing order to chaos. It also served to separate the study of nature from the sport of hunting and other such entertainments, thereby elevating the intellectualism of the host.
Like his counterparts at Versailles and Vienna, Augustus the Strong was a voracious collector of exotic birds and animals as well as a keen hunter. He would have seen the menagerie at Versailles in his youth during his Grand Tour, and the symbolic significance of the menagerie would not have been lost on him. Augustus housed domestic and exotic varieties in close proximity; for example, the Court kitchens were supplied with fish and domestic fowl that were kept close at hand with exotic water birds and wildlife. The menagerie was housed in what became known as the Löwenhaus (lion house), part of the Jägerhof in Neustadt. Its lavish decoration demonstrated the high esteem in which hunting was held. The juxtaposition of the animals to the hunting arena and the domesticated varieties demonstrated the Prince's demand of obedience of wild animals as well as the relative importance of hunting to the Saxon psyche, which was much more so than the French and Austrian counterparts. Augustus had a number of animal enclosures around Dresden. The most significant was Schloss Moritzburg near the Friedewald. Moritzburg had a deer park, a wisent (European Bison) enclosure and an aviary for exotic birds as well as extensive stables. As Augustus was holder of the title Reichsoberjägermeister (Imperial Master of the Hunt), this prestigious Imperial honour confirmed Augustus's importance in the Royal hunting fraternity and placed Moriztburg at the centre of the hunting map of the Holy Roman Empire.
As with his porcelain collection, Augustus the Strong was closely involved with the building of the Royal collection of wild and exotic animals and used several different sources to add to the collection. It was swollen by gifts from local and foreign royalty. In November 1731 Augustus received a gift of a pair of lions, two tigers and an 'Indian cat' from the King of Sweden. The lion-keeper at the Löwenhaus records their delivery noting that "the lion and lioness, and also the two tigers, are good-looking beasts, excepting that the lion has only one eye"8. The collection grew through purchases in the trade in exotic beasts, a lucrative side line for mercantile organisations such as the East India Company. Augustus purchased pieces through intermediaries, but he is also recorded as purchasing creatures in person; for example, at the Leipzig Spring Fair of 1729, Augustus bought a lioness, a tiger and a baboon9. It is interesting to note that he tried to purchase rare specimens in exchange for quantities of Meissen porcelain, giving a direct correlation between the value and esteem in which both commodities were held.
Perhaps Augustus's most extravagant effort to obtain examples of wildlife for the collection came with the Saxon Africa Expedition of 1730-33. This extraordinary venture set off under the leadership of Johann Ernst Hebenstreit with the purpose not only gathering live samples, but also skeletons and skins for the Royal Natural History Collection or Naturalienkabinett housed at the Zwingerhof. Flora and fauna were carefully recorded and accurate drawings were sent back to Dresden on a regular basis. The expedition came to a rapid conclusion following the death of Augustus the Strong and although many of the living specimens survived the return journey to Europe, many died and their remains were preserved and presented to the Naturalienkabinett. A similar arrangement occurred with the specimens from the Royal menagerie post mortem. This provides the third menagerie in the Royal Collections, a collection more ostensibly dedicated to science. The Zwingerhof was dedicated to learning with visitors to the museum greeted by galleries that were given over to collections of ichthyological and ornithological specimens as well as conchological, coral and amber collections. This led to a gallery devoted to quadrupeds; this gallery of mammals was arranged and curated very much like an art collection.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF PORCELAIN: THE MEISSEN FACTORY AND THE MODELLING WORKSHOP, 1710-31
Walther Ehrenfried von Tschirnhaus, the mathematician, physicist, physician and philosopher began experimental firings of 'porcelan' (sic) in about 1704 and tried to persuade Augustus II to establish a porcelain manufactory. Initially Augustus refused, fortunately this was a decree he would later relent. The alchemist turned ceramicist Friedrich Böttger joined Tschirnhaus in his work, and with the introduction to the recipe of Kaolin from Saxon pits and alabaster, work advanced quickly. By 1708 Augustus had reconsidered his earlier refusal and offered Tschirnhaus a substantial advance to establish a manufactory. Following Tschirnhaus's sudden death in 1708, work on the project halted, but Böttger continued their work and on 28th March 1709, Böttger declared that the secret of porcelain had been discovered. Although it is his name that is closely associated with the development of porcelain, Böttger worked in collaboration with a working group or 'Contubernium' including the metallurgist Gottfried Papst von Ohain, Bergrat of Freiberg, as well as miners and foundry men from Freiberg, including Paul Wildenstein who recorded these early developments in letters. With Augustus as its patron and closely involved in the factory's development, the works were founded at Albrechtsburg and production began in about 1710.
The earliest products concentrated on form and applied ornament. Sculptural forms were also important from a very early date with the work of highly accomplished sculptors such as Balthasar Premoser, Benjamin Thomae and Paul Heermann recorded at the factory as early as 1710, though no permanent modellers were employed until 1727. Following Böttger's death in 1719 and the arrival of Höroldt in 1720, the factory quickly amassed a palette of vivid colours as well as the desirable underglaze blue of the Oriental imports. We see the pendulum swing with more of an emphasis on painting rather than sculpture with much of the modeller's efforts being put into creating large vases which were used as a canvas for fine and detailed painting.
Gottlieb Kirchner is recorded at the Meissen factory on 24th March 172710, younger brother and pupil of the Court sculptor Christian Kirchner, who worked on architectural elements of the Japanese Palace. The twenty-one year old Kirchner was the first modeller specifically employed to develop porcelain sculpture as a dedicated art form and to overcome the problems of a medium still in its infancy. This was a very different medium from wood, ivory or stone; the shrinkage of models in the kiln during firing proved a great challenge to the early Modell-meister. Having created some very successful pieces of form at the factory after print sources, it was observed that Kirchner's interest was on the wane and after a year at the factory he was dismissed. He was replaced by Johann Christoph Ludwig Lücke, who struggled to master the discipline, and the factory reverted to using designs by outside sculptors. However, with the Japanese Palace project looming in 1730, it was decided to re-employ Kirchner who began working on large scale vases and shortly turned to the creation of models for the porcelain menagerie.
Kirchner was joined quite shortly after the project began by a young and ambitious sculptor, Johann Joachim Kändler. The same age as his fellow sculptor, Kändler had been appointed Court sculptor in 1730 after being apprenticed with Johann Christian Feige and Benjamin Thomae. He appears to have been personally picked by Augustus to work in the porcelain works and the sheer scale of the project necessitated an additional modeller being appointed. Kändler mastered porcelain sculpture rapidly and developed a natural affinity with the medium. Indeed he is rightly regarded as one of the finest and probably the most influential of porcelain modellers in the 18th century. He demanded wages in excess of the "senior" sculptor and having proven his talent and industry, he got them. Even though the Factory Commission would attempt to hide this from Kirchner, he soon found out and his work record is scattered with demands for greater remuneration, accommodation and prolonged periods of absence. Clearly a divide would appear between the two modellers personally as well as artistically.
THE HISTORY AND PRODUCTION OF THE PORCELAIN MENAGERIE FOR THE JAPANESE PALACE
The genesis of the porcelain menagerie probably lies with Augustus the Strong. Much evidence survives of his personal role in many of his 'pet' projects. Although the exact date of the concept is not recorded, scholars have surmised that it took place in the late Summer of 1730, some time between the re-employment of Kirchner in June to work on large scale vessels and the account detailed by Keyssler in October 1730. In June of 1731, Kändler commenced his employment at the factory and we can see from evidence submitted to a mediation hearing in 1734 that he was engaged to work on the animals11.
In December 1731 we see the first record of the specific creatures intended for display in the Japanese Palace and reference is made to them in regular progress reports between then and 1736. These records allow us to track the progress of various models over the period. It becomes clear that the composition of the menagerie is a mixture of models specifically ordered by Augustus the Strong and those submitted by artists outside the order. This level of artistic freedom on such a costly project is most unusual. We can gauge the progress of the project from a list produced in 1732 listing 132 figures of 33 different varieties of quadrupeds and 120 figures of 28 varieties of birds, mostly in groupings of four. This listing also gives an indication of the esteem in which the animals were held, the order of the animals beginning with lions and elephants, and the order of birds with the ostrich and eagle heading the list. By December of the same year evidence emerges that the order had been doubled in quantities with the groupings now generally being eight12.
Following Augustus II's death in February 1733, his son and successor Augustus III made enquiries into the progress of the project and extended the timetable for completion. Ultimately, the most complete and extensive listing of the porcelain be supplied to the eleven rooms of the upper floor of the Japanese Palace was compiled on 26th November 1733. In this listing we now see the height of this ambitious project with 296 figures of 37 varieties of quadrupeds and 292 models of 32 varieties of birds (mostly in groupings of eight) listed and destined for one gallery. This list is subject to a revision in 1735, citing the technical demands of the models and according to the last report of March 1736, a further reduction in the size of the order was made. Unfortunately it is very difficult to state categorically how many models were actually delivered. As Samuel Wittwer carefully points out13, there has been some misinterpretation of the lists by scholars and there may be miscalculations in the compilation of listings and the later cataloguing of the evidence. Together with a certain amount of 'seepage' from the collection, particularly of smaller bird models, this has made a definitive final listing elusive. It is clear, however, that the steady delivery of models from the factory had finished by 1736. Following the cessation of the Japanese Palace project and the re-designation of the Palace as a depository, there was a re-distribution of many of the models. By the time the inventory of 1770 was taken, the collection was reduced to only 110 quadrupeds and 224 birds.
CHALLENGES OF THE FIRING PROCESS
The production of models on this scale had not been attempted before in porcelain and comparables lie only in the large scale figural religious sculpture of the Della Robbia workshop in Renaissance Florence. The production of the menagerie in a relatively new and untried medium proved a great challenge to the modellers and their teams of repairers (the craftsmen who actually assembled the figures) and kiln men. The creation of even small scale models from plaster moulds was a highly technical procedure. The larger sculptures compounded these difficulties and raised further issues for the modellers. The stresses of the manufacturing process meant that the models needed to be self supporting, and this would need to be reflected in the artists' initial model. The size of the model would alter during the drying and firing process with a reduction by as much as one sixth from the original mould. In his letter of 23rd October 1730 Keyssler records that the proposed models of saints intended for the chapel were to be made almost life-size, and would require drying time of up to a year before they could be fired; this drying time will be qualified later. The glazing and firing process itself would make very specific demands of the modellers. Once the sculptures had been produced from the mould there was little chance of any further re-modelling, perhaps only the addition of incised detail to fur or feathers. The glazing process coupled with the initial firing would lead to the 'in-filling' of detail and the softening of lines; this meant that features would need to be simple and bold to convey the desired effect.
Modellers needed to account for the capricious and volatile nature of the material and the production process. They would often begin by producing a three-dimensional 'sketch', both Kirchner and Kändler record producing these types of plastic models. This would act as a note for a later, more finished scale model, often informed by print sources for detail and finish. It is interesting to note at this point that Kändler, after initially following Kirchner's lead, quickly developed his technique and observed nature as a direct inspiration, rather than a two-dimensional source. From the artists models, it was possible to create plaster moulds for each section of the sculpture to be assembled later.
The basic factory paste of the 1730s was composed of roughly 60 kaolin, 20 feldspar and 20 opening additive (usually finely ground porcelain shards, but in earlier figures sand or clay was used). The paste was adjusted to reduce the firing damage that was occurring, and its composition was one of the factory's main priorities in about 1734. As well as reducing the incidence of firing faults, Höroldt intended to improve the colour and refinement of the paste, but there was a constant balance between producing fine white porcelain and a paste robust enough to produce large scale sculpture. The next few years would see a gradual increase in the quality of the paste, and today we see this reflected in the variety of differing finishes to the animals in the menagerie.
Once the moulds had been made for the parts of the models they were lined with clay, the moulders would assemble the halves of each component part of the model. These sections would be passed to the 'repairer' who would assemble the parts and smooth over the joins, add any applied ornament, and pierce the model to allow any expanding air in the body to escape (in the case of the lion and lioness the ears, lips and nostrils were left open and the base of the lion is pierced; the base of the fox is pierced with eleven small apertures to the surface of the mound and two larger apertures to the underside of the base). Modellers and repairers used innovative techniques to add variety and drama to basic models, which meant that facing pairs and seemingly entirely different models could be created around a basic form; this required great skill and experience and was often done under the guidence of the Modellmeister. Following assembly and final ornamentation, the figures would be left in a controlled environment to dry gradually for at least six to eight weeks, or sometimes longer in the case of the larger animals.
They would then be ready for the first low temperature firing (at about 800° C) making the body ready to be glazed. Owing to the size of the models, it was impossible to dip the figures in glaze as would usually have happened with smaller figures. The larger models were effectively basted, with any opening being plugged to prevent an in-filling with glaze, and to prevent further cracking. The figures then had a ring of clay applied around the base of the piece to prevent the glaze from touching the underside of the model. Once the dry figures had been prepared, several workers would begin literally pouring glaze over the figure, covering the porous body until it had stopped absorbing the glaze. The plugs were then removed and the ring left intact for the firing, to be chipped away later. The high temperature firing, at about 1400° C was crucial to the successful completion of the model. The stresses placed on the figures were immense and posed the greatest risk in the process. Firing-cracks might appear and the whole shape of the form might be contorted whilst in the kiln. The Meissen potters would carefully consider all of the influential factors from choice of paste, the shrinkage of the model, down to the position of the models in the kiln in order to minimise these potentially devastating risks and produce a model suitable for the Japanese Palace. The dull, grey biscuit clay would be transformed into an entirely new material with a high sheen and bright white colour.
The process of production was innovative and experimental; to overcome the problems associated with the weight and thickness of the models, the factory experimented with several designs for the problematic bases of the models. The lioness, for example, had three differing designs for the underside, one enclosed (similar to the present example), one partially open and one completely open14. The wastage of the process is not accurately recorded, but of the ruined attempts a few were ground down and re-cycled in future firings. Some were stored in a room at Albrechtsburg and we know that this included lions, eagles and the like.
As has been made clear above, the risks involved with further firings of the larger models prohibited an enamel firing from taking place. Many of the larger animals were left in the white with any visible firing cracks being filled with a resin or even wood and plaster. Although faults, discolourations and cracks, whether filled or not, appear surprising to the modern viewer, they were deemed acceptable at the time. At an early stage in the project it was decided that the larger figures could not go through an enamel firing due to the fragility of the medium. Instead they were to be cold-painted with enamel colours. This process involved a significant contribution by the court painter and lacquerer Christian Reinow, who appears to have been employed to decorate the white models with a sealed lacquered finish. Examples from the Japanese Palace have survived to the present day with their cold-painting intact, but the degradation of the medium over the years does not give the present onlooker an accurate view of how the cold-decorated models would have appeared at the time. What has survived is an account from 173415 that records Augustus III had expressed displeasure at poorly applied oil painting to the Japanese Palace animals. The work of Reinow is discussed in detail by Rainer Rückert16 and interestingly states that he worked on some pieces which had already been coloured at Meissen, and that he was employed to seal the colours below a layer of varnish. The lack of detailed records makes absolute conclusions difficult and the exact process of decoration is debatable. What is clear is that at some point in the 19th century following the collections passing into state control, the decision was made to remove much of the lacquer work and pigmentation from the cold-decorated figures.
THE MOVEMENT OF THE MENAGERIE AFTER 1736
The models for the Japanese Palace menagerie, certainly with the larger specimens, were not produced commercially, but as part of a one-off commission. The smaller models, mostly of birds, would have been technically less challenging to produce commercially, so were issued by the factory and became increasingly popular in the middle of the 18th century; many factories across Europe tried to emulate Kändler's creations. The large models were not as generally well-known as the small models, which were normally associated with the factory.
Inventories of the collection taken from 1770 onwards show a gradual depletion in the quantities of the figures when compared to the 1736 listing of the menagerie. The animals and birds were also moved around various Royal residences, for example, to the Tower Room in the Residenzschloss, or a few were given as Royal gifts. There was also some depletion due to damages. However, the larger animals remained on display at the Japanese Palace and proved to be a popular attraction to visitors. Following the Seven Years' War (1756-63), the animals were stored with the rest of the Royal Collection in the cellar of the Japanese Palace. By the end of the 18th century, Count Camillo Marcolini mounted a concerted campaign proposing that the figures be properly displayed and curated (this came to fruition with the publication of a catalogue of the collection by Gustav Klemm in 1833). Unfortunately his petitions went unheeded and his proposal to re-house the collection in the Zwingerhof came to nothing. Importantly, the animal and bird figures were redefined as works of art, rather than furnishing or decoration.
It was not until 1876 that the menagerie, along with the rest of the porcelain collection, was transferred to the Johanneum, a former stable building, to join the paintings collection. Here the white animals and white vases were displayed in long galleries along side porcelain from Asia and other European factories. In the early part of the 20th century plans were formulated to re-house the collection in the Zwinger, plans which were partially realised. Following the removal of the collection during the Second World War, pieces seized by the Soviet Union were returned to Dresden by 1958. Ultimately the collection was to go on view to the public at its current home in the Zwinger in 1962.
EUROPEAN CERAMICS, GLASS & CHINESE EXPORT ART
The lion 20¼ in. (51.5 cm.) high, 31¾ in. (80.6 cm.) wide, the lioness 19¼ in. (48.9 cm.) high 30¾ in. (78.1 cm.) wide (2)
Ingelore Handt & Hilde Rakebrand, Meissner Porzellan Des Achtzehnten Jahrhunderts 1710-1750, (Dresden, 1956), pl. 60 for the lion.
Ingelore Menzhausen, 'Porzellansammlung im Zwinger' Catalogue (Dresden, 1986), pp.122, 123.
Augustus II, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, thence by descent.