While the formulation of hard-paste porcelain in Europe is credited to a Dresden alchemist named Johann Friedrich Böttger, who established a porcelain factory in nearby Meissen in 1710, the impetus for porcelain figurines can be directly attributed to Augustus II, the King of Saxony and Poland. Augustus the Strong, as he was also known, envisioned a palace filled with porcelain objects, including a menagerie of hundreds of life-size animals. Throughout the 1720s, none of the Meissen modelers were able to animate porcelain to his highness’s satisfaction, so, in 1728, Augustus brought in a woodcarver named Johann Joachim Kändler, whose lack of experience with porcelain was more than offset by his keen eye and facile hand.

After the king’s death in 1733, Kändler sculpted the first of many harlequins and other Italian commedia dell'arte and theatrical characters, as well as caricatures of members of his successor, Augustus III’s court, from his jester (Joseph Frölich) to his numerous mistresses to litters of pug dogs, a reference to the King’s position as the Grand Master of the Order of the Pug Dogs. In fact, Meissen figurines in the 18th century included a great deal of animals, including monkeys in tricorn hats playing a variety of instruments and pudgy putti feeding bunches of grapes to lounging leopards.

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

V&A Porcelain Figures

V&A Porcelain Figures

The Victoria and Albert Museum’s online collection of Meissen porcelain figures includes more than 150 pieces, in… [read review or visit site]

Most watched eBay auctions    

A Beautiful Large Antique 18thc Meissen Porcelain Figure, C. 1750 J.j KaendlerMeissen - Of The 19th Century Figural Jug - 32.cm Meissen - FigurinesMeissen - Figural Salt ShakersMeissen - Figurines19th Century Meissen Figurine Woman With Garland Of FlowersA Fine Pair Of Best Quality C19th Meissen Porcelain Figures - Incised 43 - C1870Meissen - FigurinesMeissen - FigurinesC1900 German 1st Quality Meissen Blue Onion 2 Tier Dessert Stand Figural FinalMeissen - The Girl FlowerMeissen - FigurinesMeissen - FigurinesMeissen - Girl With SheepMeissen - FigurinesMeissen - The Girl With A BirdAntique Meissen Porcelain Bullfinch Bird Figurine, #899,1st Quality, Near Excel.Meissen - FigurinesMeissen - Chinese GirlSuperb 19thc Meissen Schneeballen Coffee Pot With Mayflower & Bird Decor C1880sAntique Early 19thc Meissen Fine Porcelain Figural Bust C.1800Antique Meissen Porcelain Bullfinch Bird Figurine, #904,1st QualityMeissen - Figural LampAntique Meissen Porcelain Figure Skater 19th Century Figurine Skating No ReserveMeissen Figurine Winter 2 Children Boy And Girl With SledMeissen Figure Of A Cherub And 2 Hearts On Pedestal “teblesse Et Soulage”Antique Meissen Porcelain Gentleman On Horseback Figure 160a 19th CenturyMeissen - FigurinesAntique Johann Kaendler Meissen German Porcelain B50 Garden Child FigurineMeissen - FigurinesMeissen - FigurinesMeissen - FigurinesAntique Meissen Porcelain Huntsman & Dog Figure B74 19th CenturyAntique Meissen Porcelain Flower Seller Figure 147 - 19th CenturyMeissen - FigurinesMeissen - FigurinesAntique Meissen Porcelain Figurine Girl With Apron And Flowers Ca 1815?