Museum loses Meissen collection to recession

Delicacy, brilliant glazes and painfully detailed painting, the hallmark of early Meissen. This pink cup, circa 1735, is a piece from the Hoffmeister Collection. Image courtesy Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg.

Delicacy, brilliant glazes and painfully detailed painting, the hallmark of early Meissen. This pink cup, circa 1735, is a piece from the Hoffmeister Collection. Image courtesy Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg.

The Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe (MKG), Hamburg, is sad about July 31. That is the day the doors will close for good on the Hoffmeister Collection. The 400 pieces of exquisite Meissen Porcelain, which has been on long-term loan to the museum since 1999, is being repossessed by its owners, Horst and Dieter Hoffmeister. The brothers are not taking it back to use as their good china. They will be auctioning the collection to offset their losses from the worldwide financial crisis.

“I have not heard of this happening before. I think it sometimes happens to museums of contemporary art – a collector may take back a piece or two to sell – but not whole collections,” remarked MKG press representative Michaela Hille.

Instances such as this are hidden by museums because they threaten a loan system that has its basis in personal trust, verbal promises, family loyalty and legacy. That is until the economic tide began to turn in 2007.

The MKG will be left with two empty display rooms. Even the display cases were paid for by the Hoffmeister brothers, and it is not known if they will be left behind. The rooms will remain closed until the museum decides on a new exhibit.

“Fortunately, our museum has an international, extraordinary and famous collection of porcelain, with 1,500 pieces from antique to contemporary. It includes Asian porcelain, and pieces by important manufacturers like KPM, Fürstenberg, Wiener Manufaktur and Nymphenburg. About 40 percent of the collection is Meissen Porcelain,” said Hille.

A double-handled, lidded cup with saucer in turquoise glaze, circa 1740 Meissen, from the Hoffmeister Collection. Image courtesy Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg.

A double-handled, lidded cup with saucer in turquoise glaze, circa 1740 Meissen, from the Hoffmeister Collection. Image courtesy Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg.

The Hoffmeister collection will surely create a stir if it comes onto the auction market intact. It represents 30 years of well-educated collecting. The pieces document the fine painting done by Meissen artists from 1710 to 1760. The Hoffmeister Collection includes Böttger stoneware, imitation Asian designs, chinoiseries and porcelain with colored background, as well as services painted with family coats of arms. At the time of this writing, an auction venue had not yet been announced. The Hamburg Abendblatt reported that the collection is worth an estimated 14 million euro.

An European version of a Chinese Shishi (half dog, half lion) adorns this richly worked Meissen plate from 1725-30 in the Hoffmeister Collection. Below is a copy of  Dieter Hoffmeister's two-volume, silk bound catalog Meissen Porcelain from the 18th century - the Hoffmeister Collection. His book is much referenced by Meissen afficiandos. Image courtesy Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg.

An European version of a Chinese Shishi (half dog, half lion) adorns this richly worked Meissen plate from 1725-30 in the Hoffmeister Collection. Below is a copy of Dieter Hoffmeister’s two-volume, silk bound catalog Meissen Porcelain from the 18th century – the Hoffmeister Collection. His book is much referenced by Meissen afficiandos. Image courtesy Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg.


'Three Form Composition: Red, Mauve, Black,' by Hans Jean Arp (Strassburg 1886-1966 Basel). Gouache on paper. 65 x 50 cm.

‘Three Form Composition: Red, Mauve, Black,’ by Hans Jean Arp (Strassburg 1886-1966 Basel). Gouache on paper. 65 x 50 cm.

Meanwhile the MKG is not at a loss for interesting exhibits. Wood in Motion – Young North German Woodworkers Show the Funiture of Today, continues through July 26.

Loriot – A Hommage, continues through Aug. 23. Two new exhibits will be previewed in August and another in September. For details visit www.mkg-hamburg.de

Lucern Art Summer

Galerie Fischer, Lucern – in cooperation with Silvan Faessler Fine Art GmbH (Zug) and der Barr & Ochsner GmbH – is pleased to present the Lucerne Art Summer Show and Sale. This event, Aug. 13-23, features paintings, sculptures and prints by international modern und period artists, including Swiss art. It is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in conjunction with the Lucerne Festival. A preview will be held on Aug. 12 at Galerie Fischer, Haldenstrasse 19, 6004 Luzern. www.lucerneartsummer.ch.

Summer Auctions

Aug. 8. Historia Auktionshaus, Berlin, from 10 a.m.; entrance at 9 a.m. Antique furniture, jewelry, silver, porcelain and art. www.historia.de

New Auction House in Lübeck: Wolfgang Meyer-Nehls, with his wife, Britta, has opened his Hanseatisches Auktionshaus at 22 Dr.-Julius-Leber Straße. The new business will offer paintings, jewelry and other high quality items in regular auctions. It is open Monday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Heidi LuxAn American freelance writer, Heidi Lux grew up near Rochester, N.Y., and is a graduate of that city’s Nazareth College. She presently lives in Saxony, Germany, where she works as an English language editor and private tutor. Her work has appeared in Transitions Abroad and German Life magazines, as well as Style Century Magazine.