The ‘Commedia dell’Arte’ and Porcelain Design

Plate 4 single figure

The Commedia dell’Arte was used as an inspiration for the decoration of both pottery and porcelain. Well known characters such as Harlequin and Pantalone were produced as porcelain figurines by the Meissen factory.

This first edition text, dating from 1729, recounts in Latin and German the burlesque scenes and amorous tales of the Commedia dell’Arte. The text is accompanied by twelve engravings illustrating the narrative. The illustrations were drawn by Johann Jacob Schübler (1689-1741) and engraved on copper by Johann Balthasar Probst for this work. Drawings and etchings such as these were the inspiration for figurines produced by Meissen. These particular engravings also served as models for a series of ten porcelain figures, designed around 1765 by Wenzel Neu for the porcelain factory of Kloster Veilsdorf.

Plate 7


Publication details:

Amor, vehementer quidem flagrans; artificiose tamen celatus, de Pantalonis custodiaque triumphans, intentato certamine prudentum stultorum. Sive Arlechin viva pictura ridiculesque Cupido.

Die war hefftig entflammte/Doch aber füftlich verborgene und über Pantalons Kufficht Triumphirende Amor, den angeftelltem Bett : Streit fluger Phantaften oder Arlechin das lebendige Bemahlde und lȁcherl Cupido.

Folio with 13 sheets, 12 engravings, paperback, untrimmed edges, contemporary marbled paper cover. Leather-trimmed chemise and slipcase. (Augsburg, the heirs of Jeremias Wolff, Johann Balthazar Probst, Johann Jacob Schubler, 1729.)

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Book of the Day: Anselm Kiefer Studios

This richly illustrated volume documents the vast studios used by the German painter Anselm Kiefer (b. 1945), located in rural and urban settings in Germany, Italy and France, and considers the influence such spaces have had on his practice, at times evolving into total works of art – ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’ – in their own right.

Cohn, Danièle: Anselm Kiefer Studios. London: 2013. 320 pages, with 300 colour and black and white illustrations. Hardback. 31 x 25cms.  £ 65.00

The following publications are also available on Kiefer:

96268Mengham, Rod: Anselm Kiefer: Il Mistero delle Cattedrali. Exhibition: London, White Cube, 2012. 110pp. Cloth, 33 x 26.5cms. Documents the largest exhibition of Anselm Kiefer’s (b.1945) work ever to be held in London. These large-scale canvases explore the contemporary artist’s fascination with alchemy and German history, with many of the canvases exposed to the elements and oxidised during their composition. The exhibition takes its title from a publication by Fulcanelli (published in 1926), which claimed that the Gothic cathedrals of Europe had openly displayed the hidden code of alchemy for over 700 years. Here, Kiefer takes the Tempelhof Airport in Berlin as an apocalyptic motif, and transforms it into a latter day cathedral. £ 35.00


Danchev, Alex: Anselm Kiefer: Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom. Exhibition: London, White Cube, 2012. 45pp., with 24 colour illustrations. Cloth, 26.5 x 33cms. German artist Anselm Kiefer (b. 1945) continues to explore themes of history, landscape and myth in this body of work, which builds upon an earlier series from 2000 inspired by the landscape photographs taken on his travels through China in 1993. These monumental landscapes, however, are drawn from the Auvergne region of France, and are described in thick, neutral paint. The title is knowingly ironic and refers to a common misquotation in the West of a phrase pronounced by Chairman Mao in 1957 which led to the deaths of millions. In several of the paintings Mao can be seen either painted within the landscape, or on a section of canvas placed above the central panel in an ‘absurd dadaist’ gesture. £ 31.25


McEvilley, Thomas: Anselm Kiefer: The Shape of Ancient Thought. Munich: 2013. 56pp., with 29 colour illustrations. Cloth. 25 x 32cms. Inspired by Thomas McEvilley’s treatise ‘The Shape of Ancient Thought’, this publication sees Kiefer invite comparison between Indian and Greco-Roman philosophy by juxtaposing photographs of temple structures in the East and West. Text in German & English. £ 46.95

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