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By Culturekiosque Staff

NEW YORK, 25 JUNE 2008 - A selection of approximately 100 objects from The Arnhold Collection, one of the greatest private holdings of early Meissen porcelain assembled in the twentieth century is currently on view until 29 June 2008 at the Frick Collection in New York.

Although the formula for manufacturing true porcelain was developed in China by the sixth century, it remained a consuming mystery in the West until its discovery in 1708 by alchemist Johann Friedrich Böttger (1682-1719) under the patronage of August II (1670-1733), elector of Saxony and king of Poland. In 1710, the king established a royal manufactory outside of Dresden in the town of Meissen, and the porcelain created there has been known by that name ever since. Early Meissen porcelain and its decoration remained experimental into the 1740s. Examples from this period are particularly rare and have always been highly sought after.

Teapot and Cover
Meissen porcelain
c. 1725-30; h: 15.2 cm
without cover, to tip of handle h: 13.7 cm
The Arnhold Collection
Photo: Maggie Nimkin
Photo courtesy of The Frick Collection

The Arnhold Collection was formed in two phases and in two cities. It was established in Dresden between 1926 and 1935 by Lisa (1890-1972) and Heinrich (1885-1935) Arnhold with a focus on tablewares and vases and on objects of royal or noteworthy provenance.

Heinrich Arnhold was a member of a powerful banking family with long-standing interests in the ceramics manufactories of Thuringia and Saxony. Married in 1914, the young couple actively collected modern and even avant-garde art while buying early eighteenth-century Meissen porcelain and the work of the factory's idiosyncratic independent competitors, nicknamed the Hausmaler (home painters). Eschewing the established taste for collecting Meissen in combination with other continental porcelains, the Arnholds focused on Meissen vases and wares of the period c. 1710-45, when Meissen was the porcelain of kings and led the porcelain industry in Europe, a role it ceded only with the outbreak of the Seven Years' War in 1756 and the subsequent ascendancy of the royal French manufactory at Sèvres.

The Arnhold collection came to America with Lisa Arnhold and her family at the start of World War II in 1940. Under their son Henry, it has continued to develop in New York, following his parents' interests, while also expanding in scope over the decades to reflect a broader range of objects produced by the manufactory in its early years.

For example, Henry shares the family's appreciation for works by the Hausmaler, significantly increasing the representation of the independent Dutch and German decorators and deepened the holdings of gold-decorated wares from Augsburg and other specialist workshops. He expanded the range of the collection by adding objects painted by such Meissen artists as Adam Friedrich von Löwenfinck. He took a new direction, however, in acquiring significant blue-and-white objects commissioned by Augustus II for the Japanese Palace, just as he did in acquiring fifteen cabinet and dessert figures in 2006. The result is a rich and profoundly personal collection of exquisite objects from the early, innovative period at Meissen.

Although well-known to specialists, this collection has never before been the subject of a major public exhibition. Highlights of the collection were exhibited in the M. H. de Young Museum in San Francisco in the 1940s and again in 1965.

The Arnhold Collection of Meissen Porcelain, 1710-50
Until 29 June 2008
The Frick Collection
10 East 71st Street (between Madison and Fifth Avenues)
New York, NY 10021
Tel: (1) 212 288 07 00

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