Ernst Barlach (1870-1938) is perhaps the best-known artist to have produced models for the Meissen manufatory during the innovative directorship of Max Adolf Pfeiffer (1918-33). The first of his models to be executed in porcelain were a series of six figures sculpted between 1906 and 1908, and produced in porcelain from around 1909 at the Schwarzburger Werkstätten für Porzellankunst, then also under Pfeiffer's direction.
Barlach was introduced to the Meissen manufactory in 1922 by Max Esser, and 'Schwebender Gottvater' [God the Father soaring] was the first model he delivered, which had been received by the beginning of April 1922. In a letter of 2nd April 1922 to Max Adolf Pfeiffer, Barlach noted "...of course I leave the choice of material to you... " (quoted by Caren Marusch-Crohn, Meissener Porzellan 1918-1933 Die Pfeifferzeit, p.116). In June 1922, Pfeiffer suggested to Barlach and his Berlin dealer, Paul Cassirer, that a "Society of Friends of Ceramic Art" be founded, for whose members the Meissen manufactory would produce limited editions of signed and numbered works by leading artists, as well as a journal. The first work of this projected series was to have been Barlach's 'Schwebender Gottvater.' Barlach, however, was unenthusiastic and the idea foundered.
'Schwebender Gottvater' was loosely based upon a series of woodcuts of 1920, 'Die Wandlungen Gottes', of which one, 'Der erste Tag' [the First Day], depicts God the Father soaring through turbulent space. The model also was the source for Barlach's 'Güstrower Ehrenmal' of 1927 (Marusch-Crohn, op.cit., p.117). Another example of this rare model is in the museum of the Meissen manufactory, published by Marusch-Crohn, op.cit., no.96.
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