Monday, May 28, 2018

Elegant Elbe: Meissen (5/28/2018)

Monday, May 28, 2018
Viking Astrild breakfast buffet and the omelet chef
More of the breakfast buffet
Cows and calves along the Elbe
We arrived in Meissen at 8:30, and 15 minutes later we were boarding motor coaches for the included Meissen shore excursion. Peter & Beth wanted to skip the Porcelain Manufacturing portion of the tour, and planned to go into town on their own. However, they were given misleading instructions by the Program Director Michael and were encouraged to go into Meissen on the bus with the shore excursion. This meant that they had to walk to the town from the porcelain factory, a greater distance than just from the Viking Astrild!
The Meissen Porcelain Manufactory/Staatliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Meissen:
The visitor center, museum, and factory store
Greeting us was Saxonia, the Statue of Liberty of
Saxony (created for the 25th anniversary of German
reunification), perhaps the tallest free standing
handmade Meissen porcelain sculpture,
decorated with 8000 handmade flowers
Close-up of the porcelain flowers
A display shows the steps in decorating Meissen porcelain
So, in the business of alchemy, being able to create gold was not going so well. August the Strong, that collector of all things precious, had imprisoned the alchemist Johann Friedrich Böttger and ordered him to make this tincture that would have healing properties as well as turn base metals to gold. After many years, Augustus the Strong turned his attention to Asian porcelain. As it was so expensive and difficult to obtain, he decided in 1704 to have Böttger (who was 19 years old at the time!) work with Ehrenfried Walther von Tschirnhaus, who had been experimenting with developing porcelain. It was Böttger's experience as an alchemist that led them to use extremely high temperatures to bake the clay mixtures. By 1708, a formula had been developed, and Augustus the Strong appointed von Tschirnhaus director of a porcelain factory Augustus was to establish. Then suddenly von Tschirnhaus died.
Böttger either knew the formula, or was able to obtain it, and reported to Augustus the Strong in 1709. Thus he became the director of the porcelain factory and is credited with "inventing" (Asians had been making it for centuries!) porcelain. The city of Meissen was close to a large deposit of kaolin clay, a key ingredient in porcelain, and the factory was set up there. Porcelain became the "white gold" of the period and Augustus the Strong profited from the the manufacturing of it.
On a potter's wheel, many of the basic forms are made,
using guides to make the pieces of a standard size and shape;
more intricate pieces are made with molds
The step of putting pieces together requires fine
shaping to be sure the pieces fit tightly together,
and using the liquid porcelain slip as the adhesive
before sent for initial firing  (KSS)
Standard designs are painted onto the pieces,
and continues to be done by hand (some
are done before glazing and others after) (KSS)
The pieces are then sent for the final firing. If you look at the photo with the display of the steps, you will see that the finished product is smaller than the un-fired product. The quality is such that the shrinkage that comes with firing is uniform, in regards to the item and the painted designs.
Then there are the pieces where the artist is able to create
the design; this woman specializes in flowers (KSS)
We were then given free time, and we did a quick spin through the several departments of the gift shop.
The least expensive items were these small bells, which could
be used as a Christmas ornament, but at 79 Euros/$82?!
On sale for 9526 Euros/$9907, a 15' tall cockatoo 
The Program Director Michael hopes to someday
save enough to purchase a Meissen pen
Something for every taste and style (KSS)
Okay, let us go to the museum (on two floors).
An organ with porcelain pipes that were developed in the 1950s by
Ludwig Zepner, a porcelain designer who found pieces of porcelain
organ pipes in the factory loft, remnants of failed experiments
The Monkey Orchestra (KSS)
Meissen began collaborating with artists in the 1920s, to bring new inspiration for designs of tableware and figurines. From World War II through the Cold War, this was impossible, as much of the equipment was sent to the Soviet Union, and Meissen become a porcelain factory catering to the masses. Traditionally Meissen porcelain was meant only for the upper classes, and the wealthy accumulated vast collections, many of which are now in museums. In the 1990s, the factory was returned to the State of Saxony, and they have returned to the old traditions. In 2008, an artist-in-residency program was initiated. Since creating a porcelain work of art takes time and patience, the process can take from months to a year. These artists bring a sense of contemporary to Meissen.
Feast & Folly (2015, by Chris Antemann) reverses traditional roles
by clothing the women and having the men unclothed
Crater vase (1856) was created for the Great London
Fair of 1862, using the talents of 29 artists (KSS)
Detail of the 1856 crater vase (KSS)
Tamiko is dwarfed by the Tischdeko, a table
decoration for the next time you have dinner guests (KSS)
Little angel by Huang Min of China
They even make bathroom porcelain and fixtures (1934)
Communist-era porcelain (KSS)
The many colors of Meissen
Back in the motor coaches, we were taken around Meissen to be dropped off at a point close to the Albrechtsburg castle. We still had a bit of an uphill climb.
Back yard gardens
Empty cans on a string, for decoration?
Meissen sewer cover
Tamiko on the seat niche at Jahnaischer Hof's
Renaissance Lions Gate/Löwenportal (1610)
Going through the first gate
Little snow fences on the roofs
Crossing the Castle Bridge/Schloßbrücke
(1220s) to the main gate (1870s)
View from the bridge down Hoheweg
Hey, a shortcut funicular!
Meissen Cathedral/Meissner Dom(1260-1410) that became Protestant in 1581
School field trip? And what are those little ghosts on  a stick? (KSS)
The grain house/Kornhaus that Augustus the Strong used to first
house his porcelain manufacturing business; Meissen porcelain was
produced here until 1863 when it moved to its present location
Albrechtsburg (1471, by court builder Arnold of Westphalia)
is said to be the first castle built strictly as a residence
and not for defense, with an enclosed spiral staircase to the right
A cat ladder?
View of red tile roofs from a terrace at the main gate (KSS)
The house with the portrait of a woman was the birthplace of
Louise Otto-Peters, a writer, suffragist and women's right activist
in the late 1800s
Tiny courtyard
Looking back up the steps from Albrechtsburg
Looking down the steps to Hoheweg
Meissen Fummel, a specialty baked good covered with sugar;
basically it is a thin crust filled with air!
Lingerie shop
Kent and I detoured from the group to see St Afra Church.
Hmm, how do you get into the upper parking space?!
We basically ran into a brick wall in trying to get up to St Afra's!
The stork appears a little cockeyed on the peak
of the half-timbered house
Met up with the group at the Market/Markt.
Meissen late-Gothic City Hall/Rathaus (1470-1486)
Market Pharmacy/Markt Apotheke (1555-1560)
Church of Our Lady/Frauenkirche (1450-1520)
In 1929, on the occasion of the 1000th anniversary of
Meissen, the world's first tuneable and thus playable
porcelain chime was installed in the tower
The porcelain bells
Corner of the Stag House/Hirschhaus
Leaving the market on our own.
Patrizierhaus or Old Knight/Alte Ritter (1557-1558
Renaissance Cloth Maker Gate/Tuchmachertor (1614)
Window seats?
Back in the Market, Kent chats with fellow
viking passengers who take advantage
of doorway seat niches
Produce market on Marktgasse
White and green asparagus
Heading to the motor coaches.
City Museum in the former Franciscan monastery
Here we go again,, bringing in the gangway
There is a crane on each side of Viking Astrild
The Captain finishes up the job
Leaving Meissen, and Albrechtsburg
Next: Torgau.

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