Meissen porcelain group depicting Diana and Endymion

This piece, about 40 cm high, is a small sculpture. It is made of two parts which are then being pushed together. The joint is just visible at the edge of the bed of clouds, next to the small cupid.

The goddess Diana, on the left, with a crescent moon in her hair, bow and quiver on her back, has a red robe draped round her hip and shoulder and is resting with one knee on the bed of clouds. She gazes fondly at the young man, the dark-haired Endymion with his green loin cloth. He is sitting on a stone and on sentry duty at his feet is the cupid, peeping through a telescope.The scene refers to a story from classical anthology. Endymion, who was, the Greek myth tells us, a young man who is always sleeping, and stole the heart of the moon goddess, Selene. In Roman mythology, it is the moon goddess Diana who falls in love with Endymion. She is also the patron of hunting and chastity. In this scene, Diana has not yet sent Endymion off to sleep so that she will be free to kiss him on the lips.

The story of Endymion is a frequent theme of art and literature, and it has also given rise to our expression "beauty sleep".The movements of the figures are controlled and express shy hesitancy between the two lovers rather than the boisterous mood of the Rococo. The master of this group, in all likelihood, was Friedrich Elias Meyer, who worked at the Meissen factory in 1748. He is best known for figurines adapted to the contemporary Chinese fashion.

Johann Friedrich Böttiger, Augustus the Strong's chemist at the Meissen factory, had discovered the jealously guarded Chinese secret of how to make genuine white porcelain. The story goes that Augustus the Strong locked Böttiger in and would not let him out again until he had found the recipe. The international importance of Meissen porcelain declined during the Empire period, when French porcelain from Sèvre and English stoneware from Wedgwood took over.

Picture: Meissen porcelain group depicting Diana and Endymion


Nationalmuseum Design
@ Kulturhuset Stadsteatern
Sergels torg, Stockholm 

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