Two important and rare Meissen figures of Guinea Fowl, 1735
Two important and rare Meissen figures of Guinea Fowl, 1735

Details & Cataloguing

Inspired by Chatsworth: A Selling Exhibition

New York

Two important and rare Meissen figures of Guinea Fowl, 1735

modelled by J. J. Kändler for
 the Japanese Palace, Dresden, each bird standing on a rocky mound base amongst various grasses and flowering leafy branches, with white-speckled black plumage, long purple necks curving to the left and red combs and wattles, 2 pieces
each H. 17 1/8 in.; 43.5 cm.
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The Royal Collections of Saxony, Japanese Palace, Dresden; 
The Ole Olsen Collection, Copenhagen;
By whom sold, The Ole Olsen Collection, Part I, Copenhagen, Winkel and Magnussen, January 1944, lot 295;
Curt Berndorf, Copenhagen;
Angela Gräfin von Wallwitz, Munich;
Sale, Property from the Collection of Sir Gawaine and Lady Baillie, London, Sotheby's, 1 May 2013, lot 195;
Where acquired by the present owner.


London, Asprey, nos 3A and B.

Catalogue Note

As recorded by Samuel Wittwer, of the twenty-eight figures of guinea fowl ordered between 1732 and 1736 for the royal collections in Dresden, only seven were completed and delivered to the Japanese Palace in 1735.1

Kändler's work report of March 1735 records his working on the model: 'Eine Berel Henne ebenfalls ins Ballåis gehörig Nach ihrer sonderbaren Arth Vorgebildetan Welcher aber noch etwas Weniges zu thun.' (‘One guinea fowl also for the Palace, duly representing its strange characteristics, to which there is a little something more to do.’); and the following month he reports that the model is completed, 'Die Berel Henne folgends fertig gemacht' (‘The guinea fowl has been made ready’). During June and July of the same year there are two deliveries to the Palace, of one and six enameled figures, respectively.

In 1769, the Tower Room inventory lists two guinea fowl in the Royal Residence but the inventories of 1770 and 1779 each mention only one bird, presumably the same one that is recorded in the Royal Collection in 1900 and which remained there at least up to 1935, when it was illustrated.2 In addition to the present examples, there were two other birds of this model in the collection of Walter von Pannwitz, one of which is illustrated in Brüning’s publication of 1904.3 Both were subsequently sold at Galerie Helbing, Munich, 24 and 25 October 1905, lots 401 and 402, as part of the larger sale of the von Pannwitz Collection.4 The sale was also reported in the 14 October 1905 issue of The Athenæum Journal of Literature, Science, the Fine Arts and the Drama, where, interestingly, the article cites two other similar examples, one in the ‘Palace at Dresden’ and another in the ‘Johanneum at Dresden’ (where the Japanese Palace collection was moved in 1876).5 The same publication reports the sale results in issue no. 4071:6 ‘The Pannwitz collection, dispersed at Munich on 24th and 25th October, realized a total of 1,150,000 marks, very high prices being paid for rare examples of Meissen china. A pair of life-sized guinea fowl fetched 38,000m....’, an extraordinary price paid for the time. The whereabouts of the von Pannwitz birds and the other three guinea fowl made for the Japanese Palace remain unknown.

1 S. Wittwer, The Gallery of Meissen Animals, Augustus the Strong’s Menagerie for the Japanese Palace in Dresden, Munich 2006, p. 339.

2 C. Albiker, Die Meissner Porzellantiere im 18. Jahrhundert, Berlin 1935, reproduced pl. XXII, figs 68 and 69.

3 A. Brüning, Europäisches Porzellan des 18. Jahrhunderts, Berlin, 1904, reproduced in colour pl. XIII, no. 409.

4 These are illustrated in at least two contemporary publications reporting on the auction: R. Freih. von Seydlitz, 'Die Sammlung V. Pannwitz (München)', Kunst und Kunsthandwerk, 1905, vol. VIII, pp. 302-03; Karl Voll, 'Die Sammlung v. Pannwitz in München', Kunst und Künstler, 1906, vol. IV, p. 31.

5 'The von Pannwitz Collection at Munich', 14 October 1905, no. 4068, p. 510.

6 The Athenæum Journal of Literature, Science, the Fine Arts and the Drama, 4 November 1905, no. 4071, p. 618.

Inspired by Chatsworth: A Selling Exhibition

New York