THE DRESDEN PORCELAIN PROJECT
1 – A BRIEF INTRODUCTION OF THE DRESDEN PORCELAIN PROJECT
Throughout a long and chequered history, the Porzellansammlung Dresden has preserved, alongside the unique Meissen collection, one of the largest and most important holdings of originally c. 29 000 Chinese and Japanese porcelain pieces that date from the 17th and early 18th centuries. Acquired primarily during the time of Augustus the Strong (1670 – 1733), elector of Saxony and King of Poland, these porcelain treasures were exceptionally well documented and the original written inventories are still largely extant. The combination of this early extensive collection of nearly 8 000 remaining Oriental porcelain pieces with their contemporary descrip-tions exists nowhere else in the world.
The current research project of these holdings will, for the first time, offer a complete overview of the former Royal Porcelain Collection together with the unpublished original 18th century inventories.
Together with Prof. Dr. Christiaan Jörg and an international group of experts in the field, the Porzellansammlung, a museum of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (SKD) intends to produce a comprehensive reference work and the definitive source for future research in the field of Chinese and Japanese export porcelain of the 17th and early 18th century.
There will be a digital catalogue in English and the information gleaned from the research process will also be made available. High resolution photography will accompany data entries to ensure that the objects are perfectly illustrated.
Fundamental parts of the project have already been initiated and partly completed.
• Transcription of the 18th century inventories into modern German; the parts relevant for the East Asian Royal Porcelain Collection were translated into English
• More than c. 7 400 extant Chinese and Japanese porcelain objects have been related to their respective historic inventory entries (ongoing)
• Research on objects from the former Royal Collection of Augustus the Strong in public collections world wide (ongoing)
• Professional photography of objects, which offer excellent views from all sides (ongoing)
The SKD is looking for external supporters, individuals or companies, who will help meet the challenge of this exciting and significant project. Through their generous sponsorship of all, or specific aspects of the project, they will guarantee that this publication will attain the highest scholarly and academic standards of excellence.
2 – THE PORZELLANSAMMLUNG DRESDEN TODAY
From the c. 8 000 Chinese and Japanese porcelain holdings of the former
Royal Collection extant at Dresden, c. 1600 artefacts are on display.
The reserve collection located at the souterrain of the Zwinger buildings, showcases thousands of intriguing porcelain objects that are not accessible to the public.
3 – PHOTOGRAPHY PROGRAM
An essential part of this project is the photographic documentation of the porcelain
objects. This will be the first time that the complete extant holdings from the Royal Collection of c. 8 000 items are recorded through professional high quality photography, which will offer multiple images of each object.
These detailed and sensitively composed photographs not only provide an indispensible tool to enable us to thoroughly research the collection but will also greatly enhance our planned publication which shall reach and inspire a world-wide audience.
4 – SOME HIGHLIGHTS OF THE COLLECTION
Among the numerous monumental vessels of the Dresden Porcelain Collection the “Dragoon” vases are the best known. These stunning objects vividly portray the passion of Augustus the Strong’s insatiable passion for porcelain.
Their name is a reminder of the deals in which German princes of the 17th and 18th centuries sold or hired out soldiers. In this case Augustus “presented” 600 cavalryman from his army to the “Soldier King” Frederick William I of Prussia in spring 1717, which formed the Dragoon Regiment of Wuthenow.
In exchange he received 151 Chinese porcelain vessels from the rich collections of the Palaces of Oranienburg and Charlottenburg near Berlin. Apparently Augustus the Strong was particularly admiring the “Dragoon” vases. Thus in 1723 he had additional examples bought in Holland.
The Dragonder Vases