Meissen group of Harlequin and the Quack Doctor, modelled by J. J. Kaendler


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Meissen group of Harlequin and the Quack Doctor, modelled by J.J.Kaendler

A very rare and highly important Meissen Group of the Harlequin Kirsche and Frölich as the Quack Doctor, modelled by Johann Joachim Kaendler, the grinning harlequin in ‘greeting pose’ leaning over a table, his pointed hat under one arm full of eggs and tablets, in his other hand a ball of dough, wearing pink striped trousers and a halved blue jacket with bands of yellow, black, green and red diamonds, with a lace ruff around his neck, his face painted with spots.   At the other side Frölich disguised as a standing doctor wearing a tricorn feathered hat over his long wig which is gathered and tied at four corners, his brown frock coat trimmed with gold and with a long knee length turquoise waistcoat over black breeches, in his right hand he holds a phial.   Between them stands a tripod table raised on a gold scrolled base, upon which are arrayed medicine phials, boxes, a pestal and mortar and pills.  Behind the table lies the doctor’s portmanteau on the oval base applied with coloured flowers and leaves.

Circa 1741

Height: 8 ins

Length: 7 ¼ ins

Mark:  Traces of blue crossed swords to base

This very rare Meissen group was mentioned by Kaendler in his works report of 26th June 1741 and described as “Ein Markt Schneyer, wie er auf einem Theatro seine Artzney Paquet meise feilbietet und verkaufet” or “a market announcer, how he offers and sells his medicine packets in a theatre”.  This group represents the court jester Frölich disguised for a fancy dress court party in the Dresden Schloss, his helper or lampooner being described as ‘der kleine Harlekin Kirsche’ or ‘the small sweet Harlequin kirsche’, see Otto Walcha, “Frölich and Schmiedel in Meissner Porzellan”, Keramos, April 1966, fig. 6.  There is a 19th century account of the history of the city of Dresden that describes a costumed market fair held on 26th June 1741 where the aristocratic participants dressed as peasants, and during which Frölich sold medicines in the Residence courtyard assisted by ‘the small harlequin Kirsch’.  This was probably based on an anonymous account published in 1763 of the life of Gräfin Brühl, which relates the incident in more detail. ‘The now-deceased Court Jester Fröhlich stood nearby as a doctor, and had the renowned small harlequin, Kirsch, with him, the two of them were selling their medicines by the package to the merriment of onlookers.  After observing the market for one hour, the noble host and hostess returned again to the Royal rooms with the whole company where they danced almost until morning and thereby brought the masquerade to a close.’ quoted by R. Rückert, “Der Hofmar Joseph Frölich”, pp.49ff.  It would appear from the examples that are recorded, of which including this piece there are just four in total, that there are two variations of the model, as three of the known examples include a monkey which is seated upon the table amongst the medicines.   The following examples are all listed in full below.


  1. The present piece from the Strauss Collection Berlin; Hugo Helbing, sale catalogue Frankfurt May 21st 1935, pl.45, lot 284.


  1. The model at Basel in the Pauls-Eisenbeiss Collection, illustrated Ingelore Menchausen “Die Figuren Johann Joachim Kändlers in Meissen aus der Sammlung Pauls-Eisenbeiss” no. 145, formerly in the Ionides Collection and illustrated in the Country Life Annual 1950, p.63, no. 12 sold at Sothebys on 14th March 1967, lot 142. This model includes a monkey.


  1. The example in the Irwin Untermeyer Collection in the Metropolitan Museum, New York, illustrated Dr. Yvonne Hackenbroch, “Meissen and other Continental Porcelain Faience and enamel in the Irwin Untermeyer Collection”, fig. 77, pl.47, formerly in the Muchsam Collection Vienna and sold at Glueckselig G.M.B.H., April 19th – 30th , 1925, lot 61. Originally in the King Collection and illustrated in the Christies sale catalogue May 6th 1914, lot 190. This model includes a monkey.


  1. The example from the Von Pannwitz Collection : Von Pannwitz catalogue, vol. II, 1925, pl.67, no. 282, formerly from the Feist Collection. This model includes a monkey.

Circa 1745

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