Meissen Porcelain for Thanksgiving

Meissen Porcelain Manufactory, active 1710 – present, Dresden, Germany
Modelled by Johann Joachim Kändler, 1706 – 1775
A Turkey, 1733, white glazed hard-paste porcelain, 53.5 × 51 × 20 cm, the Getty Museum, CA, USA

In Meissen’s porcelain menagerie, each bird or animal whispers tales of craftsmanship and elegance… In my latest BLOG POST titled Meissen Porcelain for Thanksgiving, I am excited to present the 1733 Meissen menagerie life-size model featuring the iconic Thanksgiving Bird!

Its head half-turned to its right, with incised eyes, an extended drooping comb suspended from the curved upper beak, the neck with deeply incised wrinkled skin, its overlapping short rounded body-feathers each with a raised central spine and incised spines covering its plump breast and back, its wings with long divided wing feathers falling to the ground and partially obscuring its three-clawed feet, the raised humped back terminating in its displayed fan-shaped tail with two tiers of radiating feathers, with a short forked tail below, supported on a circular rockwork base applied with moss and plants with short broad leaves… This is how Christie’s experts describe the 1733 life-size white model of a turkey-cock created at the Meissen porcelain factory, by master sculptor Johann Joachim Kändler.

Kändler’s Model of a Turkey was one of many animals and birds—ranging from exotic birds to fierce dogs and elephants—that were created for the foremost 18th-century collector of oriental porcelain: Augustus the Strong, elector of Saxony and king of Poland, who was also the founder of the Meissen porcelain factory. In the early 1720s, just a little over a decade since the establishment of the Meissen factory in 1710, Augustus the Strong, captivated by the beauty of porcelain, envisioned a life-size porcelain menagerie for his Japanese Palace in Dresden. He was by far the greatest collector of Chinese and Japanese porcelain, what he was missing was a breathtaking assemblage of porcelain produced by his own factory at Meissen. His dream was put into practice in 1728, and by 1735, it had become a reality.

Nicolas de Largillierre, 1656–1746
Augustus the Strong, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, 1714–15, Oil on Canvas, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri, USA

According to Christie’s experts… Two principal modellers were involved in this huge undertaking: Johann Gottlieb Kirchner and Johann Joachim Kändler. The latter became Kirchner’s successor and a major figure in the history of Meissen. Kändler’s skill was to breathe life into the models and give them a sense of dynamic movement, and his work is still very much admired by collectors.

Johann Joachim Kändler’s importance as an artist at the Meissen porcelain factory lies in his pioneering artistry, diverse artistic contributions, innovative designs and techniques, collaborations and partnerships, royal patronage, and enduring legacy within the realm of porcelain art. Kändler was known for his exceptional ability to depict animals or birds, like the white life-size Turkey model, with a high degree of naturalism and accuracy. His menagerie models captured the essence of various creatures in a lifelike and realistic manner. This naturalistic representation showcased his mastery of form, anatomy, and attention to detail.

He is also known for his attention to detail and realism. The menagerie models he created were meticulously crafted, paying careful attention to the intricate details of each animal. From the texture of feathers and fur to the expressions on their faces, Kändler’s models displayed a remarkable level of realism, featuring dynamic and expressive poses, and capturing the animals in various states of movement or repose. These dynamic poses added vitality and energy to the models, making them visually engaging and captivating.

Meissen Porcelain Manufactory, active 1710 – present, Dresden, Germany
Modelled by Johann Joachim Kändler, 1706 – 1775
A Turkey
, 1733, white glazed hard-paste porcelain, 53.5 × 51 × 20 cm, the Getty Museum, CA, USA

The use of porcelain as the medium for these models added to their aesthetic allure. Porcelain, with its smooth texture, translucency, and delicate nature, provided a perfect canvas for Kändler to showcase his artistic vision. The whiteness of the porcelain allowed for intricate painting and detailing, enhancing the overall aesthetic quality of the menagerie models. Kändler’s models were not only aesthetically appealing but also held cultural and historical significance. They were reflective of the 18th-century European fascination with the natural world and the desire to bring aspects of the natural world into the realm of art and decoration.

If Meissen’s animal porcelain figurines tell us stories in delicate forms… Kändler’s models of animals and birds showcase artistic brilliance and significantly contribute to the world of porcelain art.

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Give thanks for each new morning with its light, / For rest and shelter of the night. / For health and food, / For love and friends, / For everything they goodness sends… (Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803-1882)

Please… Check HERE! for the Meissen Porcelain for Thanksgiving PowerPoint, titled The Meissen Managerie: 10 Outstanding Examples!

A May 17, 2023 Video, titled Meissen Porcelain Animals: Getty Conversations by Smarthistory…

Olympe de Gouges

Alexander Kucharsky, 1741–1819
Portrait of Olympe de Gouges, 18th century, pastel on canvas, Private Collection

Yesterday, at seven o’clock in the evening, a most extraordinary person called Olympe de Gouges who held the imposing title of woman of letters, was taken to the scaffold, while all of Paris, while admiring her beauty, knew that she didn’t even know her alphabet… She approached the scaffold with a calm and serene expression on her face and forced the guillotine’s furies, which had driven her to this place of torture, to admit that such courage and beauty had never been seen before… That woman… had thrown herself in the Revolution, body, and soul. But having quickly perceived how atrocious the system adopted by the Jacobins was, she chose to retrace her steps. She attempted to unmask the villains through the literary productions which she had printed and put up. They never forgave her, and she paid for her carelessness with her head… wrote an anonymous Parisian who kept a chronicle of the 1793 events.

Olympe de Gouges was a French playwright, novelist, and political activist who is best known for her writings on women’s rights and social justice. She was born Marie Gouze on May 7, 1748, in Montauban, France. Her mother, Anne Olympe Mouisset Gouze, was the daughter of a bourgeois family, but the identity of her father is ambiguous. Marie Gouze encouraged rumors that Jean-Jacques Lefranc, Marquis de Pompignan was her father, and their relationship is considered plausible but historically unverifiable.

In 1765, Olympe de Gouges married Louis-Yves Aubry, a man much older than her. The marriage was an unhappy one. In 1766 her husband died, and Olympe, funded by her wealthy friend, Jacques Biétrix de Rozières, moved to Paris in 1770 to pursue a career in writing. Described as one of the prettiest women in Paris, de Gouges socialized in fashionable society, attending the most artistic and philosophical salons of Paris. She wrote plays, novels, and pamphlets on a variety of topics, including women’s rights, slavery, and political reform. Her most famous work is the Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen, which she wrote in response to the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen during the French Revolution.

She was an advocate for women’s suffrage and believed that women should have the same rights as men. She also spoke out against the slave trade and called for the abolition of slavery. De Gouges was an active participant in the French Revolution and supported the Girondists, a moderate political group. However, her views were unpopular with the radical Jacobin faction, and she was arrested and executed by the guillotine on November 3, 1793, during the Reign of Terror. De Gouges’ legacy as a feminist and social justice advocate has been recognized in recent years. Her name is now engraved on the Pantheon in Paris, a mausoleum that honors distinguished French citizens.

Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen, 1791

Olympe de Gouges wrote The Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen in 1791, during the French Revolution. The revolution brought about a lot of discussion about individual rights and freedoms, and Gouges saw this as an opportunity to advocate for women’s rights as well. As a feminist writer and activist, who believed in the equality of men and women, Gouges was particularly concerned with the ways in which women were excluded from political and legal rights, and the ways in which they were treated as inferior to men in society. She believed that women were capable of reason and should be granted the same rights and opportunities as men.

The Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen was Gouges’ response to the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which was passed by the National Assembly in 1789 and proclaimed the equality of all men. Gouges argued that this declaration did not go far enough and that women were also entitled to the same rights and freedoms. In her declaration, Gouges called for women to have the right to vote, to hold public office, and to receive education. She also argued that marriage should be based on mutual consent and that women should have the right to divorce if they wished. Her declaration was a radical and controversial document at the time, and it was not widely accepted by the French government or society.

Hoping to expose the failures of the French Revolution in the recognition of gender equality.. Houges’ The Declaration of the Rights of Woman starts…

Mothers, daughters, sisters, female representatives of the nation ask to be constituted as a national assembly. Considering that ignorance, neglect, or contempt for the rights of woman are the sole causes of public misfortunes and governmental corruption, they have resolved to set forth in a solemn declaration the natural, inalienable, and sacred rights of woman: so that by being constantly present to all the members of the social body this declaration may always remind them of their rights and duties; so that by being liable at every moment to comparison with the aim of any and all political institutions the acts of women’s and men’s powers may be the more fully respected; and so that by being founded henceforward on simple and incontestable principles the demands of the citizenesses may always tend toward maintaining the constitution, good morals, and the general welfare.

In consequence, the sex that is superior in beauty as in courage, needed in maternal sufferings, recognizes and declares, in the presence and under the auspices of the Supreme Being, the following rights of woman and the citizeness…

For a Student Activity, please… Check HERE!

Henri III being Welcomed to the Contarini Villa

Giambattista Tiepolo, Italian Artist,1696 – 1770
Henri III being Welcomed to the Contarini Villa, circa 1745, fresco mounted on canvas, 7,29 x 4,02 m, Musée Jacquemart-André, Paris, France (my amateurish attempt to Photography)

No other work by Tiepolo could be closer to our hearts, as it seems to have been created for us (the people of France). The last great Venetian painter and an episode in the history of France: is this not the finest possible blend of everything Venetian and French? This is how the fresco Henri III being Welcomed to the Contarini Villa, in Musée Jacquemart-André, Paris, was presented to the French public by the ‘librettist’ of the Gazette des Beaux-Arts in 1896. (page 121-130) and

Giambattista Tiepolo, also known as Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, is widely regarded as one of the greatest painters of the Rococo period. Tiepolo came from a family of artists, and he received his initial artistic training from his father, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo the Elder. Tiepolo’s talent and artistic abilities quickly gained recognition, leading to commissions for various decorative frescoes in palaces and churches across Europe. His works showcased his mastery of composition, grandeur, and a distinctive sense of lightness and elegance.

Giambattista Tiepolo, Italian Artist,1696 – 1770
Henri III being Welcomed to the Contarini Villa (detail), circa 1745, fresco mounted on canvas, 7,29 x 4,02 m, Musée Jacquemart-André, Paris, France (my amateurish attempt to Photography)

Circa 1745 Tiepolo was commissioned to paint a historic event for the Contarini family, and specifically for Villa Contarini in Piazzola sul Brenta. Standing in the Veneto area, only a few kilometers from Padua and Vicenza, on the ruins of an ancient castle built by the Dente family around the year 1000, the Villa was a farmhouse up until the mid-17th century, when Federico Contarini, one of the procurators of San Marco, expanded the building, turning it into a palace. Villa Contarini reflects Palladio’s signature style, which is characterized by symmetry, proportion, and the grandeur of Venetian nobility.

Andrea Michieli, called Vicentino, 1542-1617
Entrance of King Henry III of France at San Nicolo al Lido, 1593, oil on canvas
400 x 810 cm, Sala delle Quattro Porte, Palazzo Ducale, Venice, Italy
Andrea Michieli, called Vicentino, 1542-1617
Entrance of King Henry III of France at San Nicolo al Lido, 1593, oil on canvas
400 x 810 cm, Sala delle Quattro Porte, Palazzo Ducale, Venice, Italy

Venetian grandeur was what Henri III of France experienced in 1574 while traveling from Poland to France in order to accept the French Crown. He arrived in Venice on 18 July 1574 and stayed in La Serenissima for ten days of official festivities and sightseeing. His host, Doge Alvise Contarini, welcomed him in front of the church of San Nicolò on the Lido for the day’s lavish reception, in front of a triumphal arch and an open loggia supported by ten Corinthian columns, designed by Andrea Palladio. The days that followed were dazzling with regattas, theatrical and musical performances, sightseeing, attendance of administrative events, phantasmagoric balls, and meetings with all members of Venice’s aristocracy and intelligentsia.

The day of his departure, Tuesday, the 27th of July, was equally grand. Henri III, accompanied by the Doge of Venice and all the members of the Venetian Senate, traveled up to Lissa-Fusine, where they bid farewell. The French Prince, soon to be King of France, was not left alone during his boat trip down the Brenta en route to Padua. He was still accompanied by ambassadors of La Serenissima, and Federico Contarini, a close relative of the Doge, who invited the Prince to visit the countryside Contarini Villa, for an impromptu stopover, probably the last lavish luncheon on Venetian soil. Henri III graciously accepted… and the rest is history, documented, two hundred years later, by Giambattista Tiepolo. (pages 121-130)

Tiepolo’s style was characterized by vibrant colors, graceful figures, and dramatic, dynamic compositions. His brushwork displayed a remarkable sense of movement and fluidity, and his use of light and shadow added depth and dimension to his paintings. His fresco for Villa Contarini is a remarkable composition that showcases the artist’s style, his mastery of the fresco technique, and his ability to depict grand scenes with intricate details. The fresco depicts the historical event of Henri III being welcomed to the Contarini Villa by members of the influential Contarini family. The composition is visually captivating, with a dynamic arrangement of figures, a strong sense of movement, and attention to detail. The artist’s skillful brushwork and use of chiaroscuro contribute to the overall richness and realism of the fresco, while the intricate costumes and ornate accessories worn by the depicted figures reflect the fashion of the period. The fresco serves as a testament to Tiepolo’s technical prowess and his ability to capture historical events in a visually captivating and engaging manner.

Giambattista Tiepolo, Italian Artist,1696 – 1770
Henri III being Welcomed to the Contarini Villa, circa 1745, fresco mounted on canvas, 7,29 x 4,02 m, Musée Jacquemart-André, Paris, France

The amazing fresco Henri III being Welcomed to the Contarini Villa, is in Musée Jacquemart-André, in Paris. It is the Museum’s piece de resistance as it crowns the mansion’s spectacular Winter Garden. Edouard André and his wife Nélie Jacquemart, were great collectors of art. They bought the Tiepolo fresco in 1893, dismantled it, and transferred it from Veneto to their townhouse on the Boulevard Haussmann in Paris, the site of what today is the Musée Jacquemart-André.

The Winter Garden, the Staircase, and Tiepolo’s painting of Henri III being Welcomed to the Contarini Villa, Musée Jacquemart-André, Paris, France

For a PowerPoint on Tiepolo’s oeuvre, please… Check HERE!

I enjoyed reading Diplomatic Gifts on Henri III’s Visit to Venice in 1574, by Evelyn Korsch, Nicola Imrie, Pamela J. Warner, Evelyn Korsch, Studies in the Decorative Arts, Vol. 15, No. 1 (Fall-Winter 2007–2008), pp. 83-113 (31 pages)

The short Video, titled, TIEPOLO au musée Jacquemart-André, by Patricia Carles, is also interesting to watch…

Photo Credits: and and and

Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun with Her Daughter Julie

Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, French Artist, 1755–1842
Self-portrait with Her Daughter, Julie, 1786, oil on panel, 105 × 84 cm, the Louvre, Paris, France
Self-Portrait with Her Daughter, Julie (à l’Antique), 1789, oil on canvas, 130×94 cm, the Louvre Museum, Paris France

Sonnet IV by Victorian Poet Augusta Davies Webster, the Victorian Poet, reads… ‘Tis but a child. The quiet Juno gaze /     Breaks at a trifle into mirth and glow, /     Changed as a folded bud bursts into blow, / And she springs, buoyant, on some busy craze, / Or, in the rhythm of her girlish plays, /     Like light upon swift waves floats to and fro, /     And, whatsoe’er’s her mirth, needs me to know, And keeps me young by her young innocent ways.    /    Just now she and her kitten raced and sprang /     To catch the daisy ball she tossed about; /     Then they grew grave, and found a shady tree, / And kitty tried to see the notes she sang: / Now she flies hitherward–“Mother! Quick! Come see! /     Two hyacinths in my garden almost out!” Presenting two paintings of Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun with Her Daughter, Julie is my humble contribution to May 14, and Mother’s Day!–Sonnet-Sequence

Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun (1755-1842) was a French portrait painter who became one of the most celebrated artists of her time. Born in Paris, she was the daughter of a painter, Louis Vigée, and began studying art at a young age. She showed a remarkable talent for portraiture, and by the age of fifteen, she was supporting herself and her family through her art. In 1776, Vigée Le Brun married a wealthy art dealer named Jean-Baptiste-Pierre Le Brun, which helped to expand her social and professional networks. She soon became a favorite painter of the French aristocracy, including Queen Marie Antoinette, whom she painted numerous times.

During the French Revolution, Vigée Le Brun fled France due to her close association with the royal court. She spent several years traveling throughout Europe, painting portraits of various members of the nobility and aristocracy. She eventually settled in Russia, where she became a favorite painter of Catherine the Great. After the fall of Napoleon and the restoration of the French monarchy, Vigée Le Brun was able to return to France. She continued to paint portraits and exhibited her work regularly at the Paris Salon. She was also an accomplished writer, publishing several memoirs that detailed her life and career.

Vigée Le Brun’s art is known for its refined elegance and sensitivity to the individual character of her subjects. She painted many of the leading figures of her time, including royalty, politicians, and artists, and her work is now housed in museums and collections around the world. She was a pioneer for women in the male-dominated world of art, and her legacy as a ground-breaking female artist continues to inspire generations of artists today.

Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, French Artist, 1755–1842
Self-portrait with Her Daughter, Julie, 1786, oil on panel, 105 × 84 cm, the Louvre, Paris, France
Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, French Artist, 1755–1842
Self-portrait with Her Daughter, Julie (detail), 1786, oil on panel, 105 × 84 cm, the Louvre, Paris, France

In 1786, Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun painted her first Self-Portrait with her daughter Jeanne Julie Louise, whom she called Julie, and caused a scandal! She presented herself holding her child most affectionately, looking straight to the viewer and smiling with her lips parted and her teeth showing. The 1787 gossip sheet ‘Mémoires secrets’ wrote… An affectation which artists, art-lovers and persons of taste have been united in condemning, and which finds no precedent among the Ancients, is that in smiling, [Madame Vigée-Lebrun] shows her teeth. Yet, Count of Angiviller, director general of the King’s Buildings, liked her Self-Portrait, as exhibited in the Salon of 1787, and requested that the artist paint a second version of the same subject. In 1789, Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun complied and presented Self-Portrait with Her Daughter, Julie (à l’Antique).

Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, 1755–1842
Self-Portrait with Her Daughter, Julie (à l’Antique), 1789, oil on canvas, 130×94 cm, the Louvre Museum, Paris France

Both paintings by Vigée Le Brun are beautiful examples of the artist’s work and a significant representation of the Late Rococo Style. The paintings are notable for their emotional depth and the strong depicted bond between mother and child. They are a testament to the artist’s skill and her ability to capture the essence of her subject in a way that is both truthful and beautiful.

For a Student Activity, please… Check HERE!

Trilogy of Soap Bubbles

In Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin’s eulogy, he was remembered for having once said, “One makes use of pigments, but one paints with one’s feelings.” And feelings he presents in his Trilogy of Soap Bubbles… three paintings of playful boys and shiny, shimmering, iridescent soap spheres… and a game, suggesting the transience of life.

The Metropolitan Museum of New York experts, where my favourite Chardin painting of Soap Bubbles reside, inform us that… The idle play of children was a favorite theme of Chardin, a naturalist among painters. Apparently, the experts continue, he drew inspiration from the seventeenth-century Dutch genre tradition for both the format and the subject, but it is not clear if the artist’s intention was for his painting, understood then to allude to the transience of life, carried such a message.

Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin was the son of a modest cabinetmaker and the student of equally modest artists. Born and raised in Paris, the artist rarely left the city, drawing inspiration from Parisian genre scenes and arrangements of typically French objects and food. He lived on the Left Bank near Saint-Sulpice until 1757, when Louis XV granted him a studio and living quarters in the Louvre. He started his career by painting signposts for tradesmen and details in other artists’ works but in 1728, the Portraitist Nicolas de Largillière “discovered” him at an outdoor show, and Chardin was immediately admitted for membership in the Académie Royale. and

Chardin was a frequent participant at the Parisian Salon, a dedicated academician, and, later in life, a pensioner of the French King. He was much admired by Denis Diderot, who would prove to be a great champion of his work. All of his paintings exhibited in the Parisian Salons were outstandingly successful.  By 1770 Chardin was the ‘Premiere peintre du roi’, and his pension of 1,400 livres was the highest in the Academy. I am not surprised… even his simple, unassuming Still Lifes are treated with dignity and respect. So much so, that the novelist Marcel Proust wrote… We have learned from Chardin that a pear is as living as a woman, that an ordinary piece of pottery is as beautiful as a precious stone! and

According to the dealer and collector Jean Pierre Mariette, writing some fifteen years after the fact, Chardin’s first figural picture, the MET experts inform us, showed a head of a young man blowing bubbles and was studied from a model. Between 1733 and 1739 Chardin painted three paintings, titled Soap Bubbles. It is also known, that in 1739 a version of Soap Bubbles was exhibited at the Paris Salon. The question is… which version? The answer is probably none of the three that have survived, in the Metropolitan Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington. They are definitely similar but not identical, none of them is dated, two of them are horizontals, and one, at the National Gallery, is vertical.

Jean-Baptiste Siméon Chardin’s Trilogy of Soap Bubbles is popular and well-liked! The viewers are absorbed by the depiction of a boy poised on a stone windowsill blowing a big soap bubble and the younger boy next to him, fully absorbed in the activity. Although Chardin gives the illusion of capturing two youths in a candid moment, he has rigorously constructed his composition. Was his intention to present the viewer with an allegorical scene? Does it matter what the artist’s intention was? Are Chardin’s paintings of Soap Bubbles the perfect example of Rococo Art? My answer… I do not know… all I want is to feast my eyes and enjoy a moment of playfulness, and innocence…

For a PowerPoint on Chardin’s Soap Bubbles, please… Check HERE!

A wonderful Video for Children, prepared by the National Gallery of Art, on Chardin’s Soap Bubbles…

Tick-Tock Bedroom Clock

The work of a Grade 9 student! on the Tick-Tock, Bedroom Clock RWAP

Tick-Tock Bedroom Clock was inspired by the Getty Museum Activity: It has developed into a RWAP (Research-Writing-Art-Project) much liked by my students.

How fascinating can a Rococo Clock be to a High School student today? I am always surprised to discover that students respond positively and enthusiastically to the enjoyable, cheerful and carefree style of the 18th century we call Rococo. “Artists working in this frivolous aesthetic built upon the flamboyance of the Baroque period, adapting its awe-inspiring aesthetic to produce equally extravagant yet distinctively playful works of art.”

Do you know that “The term Rococo is derived from rocaille, a special method of decorating fountains and grottoes that dates back to the Italian Renaissance?” Artists using this technique “would mix seashells, pebbles, and other organic materials with cement, culminating in a naturalistic, under-the-sea-inspired medium.”

Rococo Decorative Arts are equally important and fascinating to painting and sculpture. They “often incorporate intricate, asymmetrical forms.” Their “serpentine silhouettes are inherently naturalistic yet undoubtedly exaggerated and are found in a range of objects, including intricate tables and eye-catching candelabra…” and Tick-Tock Clocks… I would add.

All quotations come from April 29, 2018, well-written to say the least article titled Celebrate the Elegance and Exuberance of French Rococo Art at MY MODERN MET site.

For more examples of student work, please… check HERE!

The Tick-Tock Bedroom Clock student Worksheet is… HERE!

A PowerPoint on Rococo Clocks is… HERE!