Fragile Diplomacy

Meissen Porcelain for European Courts

Edited by Maureen Cassidy-Geiger

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While imported Chinese porcelain had become a valuable commodity in Europe in the seventeenth century, local attempts to produce porcelain long remained unsuccessful. At last the secret of hard-paste porcelain was uncovered, and in 1710 the first European porcelain was manufactured in Saxony. Meissen porcelain, still manufactured today, soon ranked in value with silver and gold.


This thorough and lavishly illustrated volume explores the early years of Meissen porcelain and how the princes of Saxony came to use highly prized porcelain pieces as diplomatic gifts for presentation to foreign courts. An eminent team of international contributors examines the trade of Meissen with other nations, from England to Russia. They also investigate the cultural ambience of the Dresden Court, varying tastes of the markets, the wide range of porcelain objects, and their designers and makers. Individual chapters are devoted to gifts to Denmark, other German courts, the Holy Roman Empire, Italy, France, and other nations. For every Meissen collector or enthusiast, this book will be not only a treasured handbook but also a source of visual delight.


Maureen Cassidy Geiger is an independent scholar and curator of the Arnhold Collection, the most valuable private collection of Meissen in the world. She is also guest curator of decorative arts, the Frick Collection, New York City.


Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design, and Culture(November 15, 2007 – February 11, 2008)

"Fragile Diplomacy, a combination of lavish illustration and substantial scholarship, captures the beauty of Meissen's porcelain and the subtle role it played among Europe's statesmen and royal houses. The book's stunning photographs, accompanied by expert essays, show off the details of ornate design and striking form."—Martin Rubin, Wall Street Journal

Winner of the 2007 American Ceramic Circle Book Award in recognition of the book's contribution to the field of ceramic study.
ISBN: 9780300126815
Publication Date: January 17, 2008
Co-publisher: Published in association with the Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design, and Culture
400 pages, 9 x 12
400 color illus.