Lot 12
  • 12

A pair of Meissen figures of bitterns circa 1750 

40,000 - 60,000 GBP
170,500 GBP
bidding is closed


  • porcelain
modelled by J. J. Kändler, each standing with head turned facing to the left or right, their plumage finely detailed in tones of brown and black, standing before reeds on a grassy mound base, crossed swords marks in underglaze-blue (some restoration)


Possibly from the Collection of Siegfried Salz, Cassirer & Helbing, Berlin, 26-27th March 1929, lots 40 and 41
Possibly Hermann Ball and Paul Graupe, Berlin, 15th March 1933, lot 42, pl. 9
Olive, Lady Baillie, Lowndes House, London (dining room), acquired Maison Jansen, Paris, 29th June 1937

Catalogue Note

 In March 1735, Kändler created a figure of a bittern for the Japanese Palace as follows : '11. Ein Balläis (Japanisches Palais) Stück den Vogel Rohr Tummel (Rohrdommel) genannt ist in seiner größe dem Fisch Reiher gleich, und Wegen seines starck befederten Halßes und andern an sich habenden Eigen schafften wunderlich anzusehen, Ist vorgestellet Wie er im Schilffe Rohr, Binsen und Graß Wie es in Teigen zu Wachsen pfleget sitzet.' [A Japanese Palace piece called a bittern, as big as a heron, and because of its heavily plumed neck and other intrinsic characteristics, it is a marvel to behold, the bittern is presented set in the bulrushes, reeds and grasses, as cultivated to grow in the wetland.]. For an example of this pair, see den Blaauwen (2000), fig. 299. 

The present examples, however, are smaller than the above-mentioned model and have considerable variations in the appearance of the birds and the reeds on the base. No records have been found as yet, but Carl Albiker dates this model around 1753 on the basis of the model number 2015; see Albiker (1959), p.15 and plate 90. Abraham den Blaauwen illustrates the pair of the Rijksmuseum and notes that this argument is "highly unreliable because their sequence is by no means always chronological. Yet a date in the middle of the 18th century seems plausible in view of their greater elegance when compared with the early birds" ; see den Blaauwen (2000), fig. 302. The author also lists the other examples known which number around eleven, including the present example, a pair sold in the Rockefeller sale, Sotheby's New York, 2005, lot 200, and a single model sold in the Safra sale, Sotheby's New York, 2011, lot 762. 

In addition, single examples are in the museum collections at Dresden, Frankfurt, New York (Metropolitan Museum of Art) and a pair mounted in ormolu are in the Huntington Library, San Marino.