23 May - 22 October 2023
Presenting nearly 170 porcelain pieces, the exhibition is a great opportunity to get acquainted with the work of Meissen's most famous artists. You can admire the painterly displays of Bonaventura Häuer (1709-1782) and the sculptural artistry of Johan Joachim Kändler (1706-1775), the most prominent Meissen model maker who brought porcelain figurines into fashion. The objects come from the world's most important collection of 18th century miners' porcelain, the Beate and Achim Middelschulte.
The exhibition allows you to be transported into the world of mountain landscapes, where mined ores are piled up, new deposits are sought with a wand, a clerk instructs a digger at work, but also elegant ladies stroll and merchants bargain. The timeless beauty of porcelain, that "white gold" that encouraged King Augustus the Strong to start production in Meissen 300 years ago, continues to captivate generations of enthusiasts.
The exhibition feature very rare porcelain sculptures, as well as intricately painted and gilded applied art - from tableware such as tea sets, to tiny boxes for needles, pills or snuff. The delicate objects, mostly from the renowned Meissen porcelain manufactory, impress with their excellent artistic level, but their historical value is no less important. Objects from the Beate and Achim Middelschulte collection allow you to see the oldest known figurines of miners, as well as the earliest painted mining scenes, such as on cups and chocolate saucers (1730-35). These are the very beginnings of porcelain development in Europe. Truly masterfully, on a microscopic scale, they depict landscapes with figures of miners.
The exhibition shows quite a few porcelain rarities from the 18th century, known only in a single copy. These include early depictions of musicians, modeled in Meissen by Georg Fritzsche (circa 1730), and others from the manufactory in Würzburg, which was in operation for only a few years from 1775. Comparisons can be made between successive 18th-century series of workers and mining bands from Meissen, Vienna and Fürstenberg. Noteworthy are the images of miners from the Berlin label (so-called Prussian and Hanoverian miming officers), which in more recent times were often given out for miners' anniversaries or farewells. The collection includes the only 18th-century originals of these, by sculptor Samuel Gottlieb Poll from 1785-86.
The exhibits come from the collection of the Achim and Beate Middelschulte Foundation, preserved at the Deutsches Bergbau-Museum Bochum. This collection is considered the most important of its kind in the world. The value of this private collection, constantly enriched by purchases at international auctions, is enormous. It inspires admiration and even envy among experts and collectors .The exhibition was created in cooperation with the Deutsches Bergbau-Museum Bochum.
Photo: collection of the Achim and Beate Middelschulte Foundation, preserved at the Deutsches Bergbau-Museum Bochum