Tea, coffee and chocolate were expensive drinks back then, popularly drunk across Cultivated Europe from porcelain cups or bowls. It was easy to combine these cups with tea caddies, sugar bowls and rinsing bowls. When undertaking a journey, these objects became even more important. C18th aristocrats usually took to the road kitted out with services for the luxury beverages - coffee, tea and chocolate - in velvet or silk-lined leather cases. They could thus assure their wives that they would not have to do without the comforts they were used to enjoying at court.
Thus some of these luxurious ensembles were particularly magnificent and thus very suitable for use as diplomatic gifts of the kind frequently made by the Saxon-Polish court, given to to fellow monarchs and princes eg to the Danish King in 1716. As early as 1724/25, the Polish King and Saxon Elector Augustus the Strong commissioned just such a travelling service for King Vittorio Amadeo II of Sardinia. A comparable Meissen service decorated with gilt hunting scenes, is recorded in a 1733 inventory of the Durlach Residence, seat of the Margraves of Baden-Durlach. It was not unknown for the donor royal to ask for gold and silver on the porcelain objects, perhaps decorated with diamonds and ivory figures.
Meissen travelling service
with chinoiserie figures
The coffee pot resembled a long slender pear, had a foliate scroll handle, a low curved beak spout and a stepped lid topped with a disk finial. The teapot resembled a short fat pear, had a C-handle with applied flowers, a curved tubular spout and a bell-shaped lid topped with a disk finial. The bulbous six-sided tea caddy with its short cylindrical neck and cap cover displayed a typically Böttger form which could be traced back to a silver model. As could the bombé-sided sugar box.
On the sugar box, teapot and coffee pot, both rim and cover bore silver-gilt mounts ornamented with a fine stylised foliate frieze. These mounts bear the Augsburg inspection mark for 1722–6, the hallmark of silversmith Elias Adam and the two marks of Meissen (K.P.M/Königliche Porzellan Manufaktur and the crossed swords).
Johann Gregorius Horoldt (1696-1775) was not the only artist working on porcelain, but once he began to work in the newly opened Meissen centre in 1720, it became possible to decorate the pieces with enamel colours. As Director of the painting workshop, Höroldt had developed a compendium of graphic sources in the form of chinoiserie figures by 1724/25. This volume is now in the Museum für Kunsthandwerk in Leipzig. The painted decoration on this 1724 travelling service clearly displayed great unity, based on Höroldt’s décorative scheme.
Meissen travelling service
peonies, chrysanthemums and asters on celadon
The second travelling service was also from Meissen c1737 and consisted of a pear-shaped coffee pot with domed cover, spherical teapot with flat cover and quatrefoil stand, six tea or coffee bowls with saucers, rectangular tea caddy, one broth bowl with a cover, sugar box, rinsing bowl and six silver spoons.
The celadon glaze, familiar from Chinese porcelain, was chosen by Augustus the Strong for a large number of Meissen porcelain pieces. These were usually the ones intended for special presentation in his porcelain palace, the Japanese Palace in Dresden.
The flowers were in enamel colours that stand out radiantly against their white glaze ground - peonies, chrysanthemums and asters were inspired by décors on the porcelain pieces from Japan’s Kakiemon Sakaida manufactory that Augustus the Strong had loved. The fine gold lines surrounding the decorative surfaces, the gold mounts by the Augsburg goldsmith Elias Adam and the gilded coffee spoons gave this cased service a splendid, princely finish.
I would love to know how much the travelling services cost those royal patrons, back in the 1720s and 30s. Sotheby's argues that since early Meissen porcelain was so precious and expensive, these early travelling sets were rarely intended for normal use. Rather it seems sensible to assume that fearfully expensive cased travelling services were destined for princely display cabinets, where they were shown together with silver, ivories and other precious objects.
Röbbig Munich displays and sells gorgeous Meissen porcelain, as seen in both these travelling services. The objects stemmed from the days of the manufactory’s prime, mostly before 1750. And visitors can also see very rare porcelain wares from the Viennese manufactory set up by Claudius Innocentius Du Paquier, plus Germany’s Frankenthal, Fürstenberg, Höchst, Ludwigsburg, Nymphenburg and KPM Berlin manufactories.
Visitors to Munich can also see the Nymphenburg Porcelain Factory; the Wittelsbachs’ Residenz Museum; the Lustheim Palace and the Bavarian National Museum.