Meissen Group of the Indiscreet Harlequin, modelled by J. J. Kaendler


An extremely rare and highly Important Meissen group of the Indiscreet Harlequin, modelled by Johann Joachim Kaendler, showing Beltrame, seated on a cairn draped in a puce cloak, wearing a black velvet hat, a turquoise waistcoat slashed with crenulations at the shoulders and scrolled scraffito decoration, trimmed with gold braid, over a white chemise with cuffs and ruff, his black gold trimmed breeches with red rosettes at the garter and wearing puce coloured shoes with blue bows. He embraces Columbine who is seated on his lap, captivated by him, the lovers look into each others eyes, she wears a puce bodice with gold marking laced together at the front with gold thread, her yellow dress with sprays of Indianische flowers, on her head she wears a green gold trimmed three cornered hat and on her feet white shoes with blue bows. The leering Harlequin who is wearing a floral and yellow waistcoat, the yellow side with playing cards, over a blue chemise, with red striped culottes, his black shoes with green rosettes, reclines at their feet on the flower and leaf applied base, whilst peering up Columbine’s skirt.

Circa 1740

Height:    6 ½ ins  (16 cms)

Width:     6 ins (15 cms)

No Marks.

Discussion and examples of this very rare Meissen group:

An Italian Comedy group of this model, which inspired similar examples at the Furstenberg and Bow factories, is illustrated by Karl Berling, Meissen China, an Illustrated History, colour pl. 6. No. 3.

See also Dr. Erika Pauls-Eisenbeiss, German Porcelain of the eighteenth century, Vol.1, p. 269.

Rainer Ruckert, Meissener Porzellan, pl. 215, no. 881.

The example in the Metropolitan Museum, illustrated within the catalogue of the Judge Irwin Untermyer, edited by Dr. Yvonne Hackenbroch, Meissen and other Continental Porcelain, Faience and Enamels in the Irwin Untermyer Collection, pl. 55, fig. 78 and pp. 85 and 86. This group featured in an Exhibition, New York City, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, March 18- May 15, 1949, Masterpieces of European Porcelain, No. 298

One example sold Puttick and Simpson (Phillips Auctioneers London) May 25th 1932, lot 608, by order of The Lady Louis Mountbatten, Edwina, Countess Mountbatten of Burma.

Another example from the Rene Fribourg Collection, sold Sotheby’s London, October 15th 1963, lot 484.

An Example from the collection of Stewart Granger, sold Sotheby’s New York October 20th 1988, lot 132.

This particular group is an example of Kaendler at his most capricious. A courtly sense of love is created by the captivated looks on the faces of the embracing Beltrame and Columbine, evoking the essence of the vivacious rococo period that we now find ourselves observing. The moment is lightened by the rakish Harlequin unable to partake himself of the beautiful Columbine he decides to take matters into his own hands and use the moment of the lovers entrancing stares to steal a glimpse under the dress of the unaware Columbine. This creates a scene for the viewer who is fully aware of the irony of the situation of the lovers, who whilst are seemingly encapsulated by each other are also blissfully unaware of the liberty that is being taken by Harlequin.

Item No. 719B

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