Meissen Three Muses Nude Figural Compote

This example is a fake item usually found described as a Meissen compote or tazza. On the day of this writing this item was in fact still being offered by a well known supplier of fake antiques and misleading reproductions advertised as 'Meissen Style' porcelain. When first purchased new from this supplier, at their wholesale price of $100, these newly imported pieces bear a removable label accurately stating place of origin - which happens to be nowhere near the Meissen factory in the city of Meissen. Once in the hands of an unscrupulous individual its true maker's import label quickly gets 'lost.' This leaves a very pretty decorative item, its surface busy with lovely partially clothed maidens, cherubs, flowers all trimmed in 'gold' - and a specious mark that mimics well the blue crossed swords mark of Meissen.

Legend quotes the alchemist Johann Bottger, who discovered the secret formula for producing hard paste porcelain at the beginning of the 18th century, as having said, "There are three things whereby men are moved to desire this or that object which otherwise is not needful for their use - one is beauty, two is scarcity and three is the exchange value that attached to these properties." How well this expresses the explanation for why it is that so many companies in so many countries have placed crossed sword-type marks on their ware almost from the very beginning of Meissen production.

Because crossed swords 'like' Meissen's have been incorporated in modified form in some maker's marks and outright forged by others for centuries now, it is very important to know characteristics to expect for the true mark. It should have been painted by hand (not ink stamped or applied with a transfer) in cobalt blue, under the glaze. Because it is always hand applied by different people over time and because of the influence of other factors, such as area of application, the mark can exhibit some slight variations. And the mark itself has gradually changed somewhat during different periods of the company's history. But these changes have been well documented by the Meissen company. Porcelain collectors should be sure to check the quality reference material available on Meissen porcelain and the true marks used by the company before spending a large sum of money on an item based solely on the fact it bears some type of a crossed swords mark. While items made by older companies and well known copyists like Edme Sampson may be collectible in their own right today and prices paid for those items are generally not misspent, there are also many new items, such as the piece shown in this listing, for which unfortunate mistakes can be made if some care is not taken to look for hints as to authenticity/age.

One thing it helps to know, which is easy enough to remember, is that Meissen uses a proprietary porcelain formula that produces a very hard, very white body. The plasticity of their clay and its tolerance for being worked allows for a high degree of translucency in finished objects. The kaolin clay used by the Meissen factory is mined close by, locally. That particular clay has no iron impurities and it is exceptionally white.

Knowing this, and using the image in this listing which shows a closeup of the underneath side of the base, observe the burnt orange color that is quite visible on the foot of the false item. That obvious coloration occurs when iron impurities have burned out of the clay body of a piece at the time it was fired. A porcelain body that shows such staining cannot have been made of Meissen's kaolin clay. This is one characteristic alone that can be quickly employed to help to identify an item that was not made by Meissen. Just turn it over and look at something about the piece underneath other than the crossed swords mark.

Also look for exceptional quality in the decorations and gilding. Meissen employed only the best artists and every decorative device, down to the smallest of details on a flower petal or the picking out of a figure's strands of hair with enamels, was done by hand. Lack of realism, figure details like fingers that have little definition, heavy use of transfer designs as opposed to hand painted details and floral decorations that seem perfunctory or done with a cookie cutter approach to shape and coloration - these clues help to denote the newer fakes most of all. Heaviness in clay bodies can be observed in the thick rim of a bowl or in areas on an item where one could rightly expect it to be translucent. An item with an overall heavy look or feel to it, lacking translucence, is not made of a high quality porcelain. If not high quality porcelain, it cannot be Meissen

This item measures 18 inches tall and 10 and 1/2 inches in width.

Item ID: 2007RP00064

Modern Reproductions, Fakes and Fantasies


Ruby Lane, Comparisons, CA   

Illustrations and Characteristics for Help in Identifying Many Confusing New Items

Ruby Lane Shop Rating
Unrated Rating Unrated
Member since 2007

Item listings in this shop are intended to be viewed for educational purposes, only. Items in this shop are not for sale.