A Unique Collection
Throughout its long history, the Porzellansammlung Dresden has preserved, alongside its unique Meissen collection, the largest and most important holding of Chinese and Japanese porcelains dating to the late 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: the original written inventories are still largely in existence and correspond directly with the individual porcelains by their engraved or painted inventory numbers (formerly called ‘Johanneum marks’, now ‘Palace Numbers’). The combination of such an early and extensive collection of nearly 8000 Oriental porcelain pieces with their contemporary descriptions exists nowhere else in the world.
Goals of the Project
The Dresden Porcelain Project initiates scholarly research on several levels, which in 2019 will offer a complete overview of the former Royal Porcelain Collection together with the hitherto unpublished, original 18th century inventories.
Part of the research will be a thorough evaluation of the unique 18th century documents that will provide a new understanding of the role that East-Asian porcelain played during these early stages of globalisation.
The impact of the porcelains will be examined beyond their mere functionality. Their role as an exotic and luxury commodity at the time will be further explored and contextualised, especially how they helped shape the knowledge, comprehension and development of cultural and artistic exchanges between China, Japan and Europe.
Under the guidance of Prof. Dr. Christiaan Jörg as academic supervisor and working with an international group of experts in the field, the Porzellansammlung of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (SKD) sets to produce a comprehensive and complete digital catalogue in English which will be the reference and definitive source for future research in the field of Chinese and Japanese export porcelain of the 17th and early 18th centuries. All objects will be published in colour; hence high resolution photography of all objects is required. The model for the catalogue is the 3-volume edition of the Topkapi Saray collection in Istanbul by Regina Krahl and John Ayers (1986).
This study will be of invaluable importance for anyone interested in the impact of East-Asia on European culture, the formation of encyclopaedic collections and the history of Oriental porcelain in the West. In addition, it adds to the history of Oriental Porcelain an in-depth survey of trade and taste, provides tools for dating and will act as the primary reference guide to establish the authenticity of pieces in other world collections.
Realising the Project
The SKD is generously supporting this immense undertaking and has enabled work on the primary aspects of the project since the summer of 2014. This includes the transcription and translation of the original 18th century inventories, and a start on the photography of the c. 8000 objects.
Call for crowdfunding
The SKD needs external supporters, individuals, foundations or companies, who will help meet the challenge of this exciting and significant project. Through their sponsorship they will guarantee that this important research and the unique publication will attain the highest scholarly and academic standards of excellence.
Your financial support therefore is most welcome! Gifts and donations can be remitted into the bank account of the ‘Foundation of Friends of the Dresden Porcelain Project’ (registered in the Netherlands as ‘Stichting Vrienden Porselein Project Dresden’). For further information, visit: www.dresdenporcelainproject.com