Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Masquerader (one of a pair)

Meissen Manufactory (German, 1710–present)
Johann Joachim Kändler (German, Fischbach 1706–1775 Meissen)
German, Meissen
Hard paste-porcelain
Overall (confirmed): 6 1/2 x 4 x 2 3/4 in. (16.5 x 10.2 x 7 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Irwin Untermyer, 1964
Accession Number:
Not on view
This model of a porcelain figure wearing a black tricorne hat, a white half mask, and a long robe trimmed with bows is commonly identified as the Avvocato, or lawyer, one of the secondary cast of characters comprising the Comédie Italienne. However, it has been pointed out recently that neither the costume nor the pose of this figure refers to the legal profession and that the figure should more accurately be called "The Masquerader."[1] His hat, mask, and cloak reflect a costume typically worn by both men and women in Venice during Carnival and at the masquerade balls popularized by the Carnival that were common throughout Europe by the mid-eighteenth century. The mask, usually made of papier mâché, granted the wearer anonymity, and the long robe, known as a domino, hid clothing that normally conveyed the wearer's social status. This effective disguise allowed for an escape from the etiquette that customarily governed social occasions.

As masked balls and performances of the Comédie Italienne were highly popular at the Dresden court, it is not surprising that porcelain figures representing these entertainmentswere produced by the Meissen factory in sizable quantities. These figures were intended primarily as decoration for the dessert table, and they had their origins in the sugar sculptures of the two preceding centuries, that also had been created to ornament the dining table. It is notable that this particular example of The Masquerader is marked on the base with the initials K.H.C., for Königliche Hof Conditorei, indicating that it originally belonged to the Saxon Court Pantry, which organized both the food and decoration for the royal table.

[Jeffrey H. Munger, 2009]

[1] Meredith Chilton, Harlequin Unmasked: The Commedia dell'Arte and Porcelain Sculpture (New Haven, 2001), p. 58.
Marking: On base in black enamel: K. H. C. (Königliche Hof Conditorei, the Saxon Court Pantry)
Augustus III, Elector of Saxony ; Sir Hugh Adair ; R. W. M. Walker (until 1945; sale, Christie's, London, July 25–26, 1945, no. 15; sold as a pair with 64.101.70 for £273); Irwin Untermyer y 1956–64; to MMA)
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