The composition of this high-fired, watertight and, at times, translucent material, which was first successfully produced in China, had, for a long time, remained unknown in Europe, thus generating great fascination. There was, for example, the widespread, but mistaken, belief that porcelain consisted of eggshell and the crushed shells of mussels and that the deposits had to be up to one hundred years old before they could be processed. In the 17th century, however, people began to realise that porcelain had to be a particularly fine ceramic material. With the establishment of the first European porcelain manufactory in Meissen on 23 January 1710, the history of porcelain took its course, making it the widespread material we know today. The secret of porcelain manufacture could not be kept in Meissen for long: in 1718, the Vienna porcelain manufactory was founded, with many others to follow in Europe over the next few decades.
The MAKK’s porcelain collection mirrors this development: Meissen porcelain forms the heart of the collection with many outstanding and extremely rare pieces. The collection is complemented with high-quality products of mainly German manufacturers.
Of special importance are the diverse figurative porcelain sculptures, which, like most other utensils, were created for sophisticated and luxurious dining. In the Rococo era, it was important to provide a visual delight for guests that would also inspire intellectually stimulating conversation. This collection comprises tableware sets and sculptures of outstanding quality, ranging from the late 18th century to the present.
The list of famous names reads like an encyclopaedia of porcelain manufacture: from Johann Friedrich Böttger and Johann Gottlieb Kirchner to the most gifted Johann Joachim Kaendler, from Franz Anton Bustelli and Johann Peter Melchior to Etienne-Maurice Falconet, as well as Paul Scheurich and Ludwig Gies.