Originally thought to have derived from an engraving in Neu-vollständiges Reiss-Buch...von einem dieser Preiss-würdigen Kunst eyfrigst Ergebenen G. H., a manual published by Johann Leonhard Buggel in Nuremburg in 1700, it was discovered by Maureen Cassidy-Geiger, "From Barlow to Buggel: A New Source for the Swan Service," Keramos, Number 119, January 1988, pp. 64-68, that the actual source is a print designed by Francis Barlow first published in 1654.
Production of this vast service was not completed until 1741, which accounts for some variation in the decoration and marks. The service remained in the family's possession until the late 19th century. From around 1880, pieces were lent to museums in Dresden and Berlin or passed to collectors, so that by 1900 only 1,400 pieces remained at the family seat of Schloss Pförten in Silesia. These remaining pieces were destroyed or disappeared at the end of the Second World War.
The service is discussed in detail by Ulrich Pietsch, Schwanenservice : Meissner Porzellan Fur Heinrich Graf Von Brühl, where on pp. 154 and 155 the author notes that there are two sizes of this shape which were meant for stands to tureens. While the present example appears to be of the larger size, the smaller examples measured approximately 13 1/2 inches wide.
This service is also discussed in Reiner Rückert, Meissner Porzellan, pp. 118ff., and more recently in "Frühes Meissner Porzellan," exhibition catalogue, Hetjens-Museum, 1997, no. 152.
Sotheby’s Scientific Research department used noninvasive XRF for this lot to screen the green enamel for chromium, which was not detected.
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