A RARE MEISSEN FIGURE GROUP, 'THE MOCKERY OF AGE' CIRCA 1740-45
modeled by Johann Joachim Kändler, with an elderly man seated holding a crutch and leaning to kiss a young lady at his side, a small dog seated in her lap, Harlequin poised at the rear to crown him with feathers, while another commedia dell'arte figure offers him a plate of celery, all on a shaped mound base applied with flowers and foliage, crossed swords mark in underglaze-blue, twice impressed numeral 25.
Height: 7½ in.
The Collection of Sir Ernest Cassel, Brook House, London
Lady Louis Mountbatten, by descent
'The Brook House Collection' formed by the late Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Cassel, G.C.B., sold, Puttick & Simpson, May 25-27, 1932, lot 596
Collection of Monsieur Armand Esders, Paris, sold, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, June 19-20, 1941, lot 183
The Collection of Max Hoffman, Basel, sold Christie's London, November 21, 2005, lot 79
E. & H. Manners, London
Musée Ariana, Geneva, April 29 1999 - September 27 1999, bearing label
Cassidy-Geiger, 2008, no. 52, p. 264, illus.
Kändler's Taxa for 1740-48 records: "1. Groupen von 4. Figuren bestehend, ein alter Mann sitzt in Schlaff Peltz einen Stock in der Hand habend und eine Feder Müze auffm Kopffe, bey einem jungen Frauenzimmer, solche zu caressiren, auf deren Schooß ein Hündgen liegt, hinter ihm steht ein arlequin, welcher lachend ihm Hahn Feder auffsetzet, vorne aber kömmt ein Kerl, der ihm Selleri praesentiert.", [1 group of four figures, an old man seated in a loose fur with a cane in his hand and a feather cap on his head, beside him a young woman whom he embraces, on her lap a small dog, behind them stands a Harlequin laughingly crowning the man with cock's feathers, and before them a lad offering him celery].
It is thought the group may have been inspired by several graphic resources including an early 18th century engraving by Martin Engelbrecht after Molière's Le malade imaginaire, or Engelbrecht's engraving entitled 'Academia', published in Augsburg in 1725, see Meredith Chilton, Harlequin Unmasked, The Commedia dell'Arte and Porcelain Sculpture, New Haven, 2001, p. 193, where both engravings are illustrated.
The five day sale of the contents of Brook House attracted a considerable amount of attention from porcelain collectors, and the foreword of the porcelain section was written by one of the leading experts of the time. Arthur Hayden, The Connoisseur, Vol. XC, July-December 1932, reported of the sale: "...Then came the furniture, objets d'art and a few pictures. A feature of this portion was the choice of Meissen porcelain, mostly figures of the J. J. Kaendler period... The chief competitors for these beautiful pieces came from Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, and Geneva; with the result that the 120 lots of the Kaendler period alone accounted for £8,578 of the total obtained by the sale [£25,636 13s]. The top price, £567, was for a ''crinoline'' group of the Countess Kossel, seated in a chair, with the Elector Augustus standing at her left side.... A harlequin group, 6 in. high, fetched £283 10s.; a group depicting a scene from the Italian Comedy, 7 3/4 in. high, [sold for] £462.", the latter possibly the present lot.
A second example of the group was in the collection of H. J. King, Esq., sold at Christie's London, May 5, 1914, lot 225. A third sold in the same rooms, June 2-3, 2015, lot 31.