About this artwork
As elector of Saxony and king of Poland, Augustus II (r. 1694/97–1733) presided over the ambitious transformation of his capital, Dresden, through advances in architecture, the arts, science, and technology. Produced beginning in 1710 through royal sponsorship and funding, Meissen porcelain was an exclusive luxury good of its time. Around 1728 Augustus conceived of replicating the animal kingdom in porcelain for display in a Baroque palace that he was transforming into a showcase for his collections of Asian and Meissen ceramics. This porcelain zoo was intended for the long gallery on the main floor of the palace. By 1733, the year the king died, more than thirty different models of birds and almost forty animals had been made, many by the sculptor Johann Joachim Kändler, who worked at Meissen from 1731 to 1775. Kändler drew this vulture from life, which allowed him to animate his work with the creature’s quintessential spirit. Such porcelain animals remain the most vivid expression of Augustus’s wish, as elector and king, to possess and rule over the natural world.
- Johann Joachim Kändler
- King Vulture
- Hard-paste porcelain, polychrome enamels
- 58 × 43 cm (22.8 × 16.9 in.)
- Harry and Maribel G. Blum Endowment Fund, Purchased with funds provided by the Antiquarian Society, Kate S. Buckingham Fund, Charles H. and Mary F. Worcester Collection Fund, Auction Sales Proceeds Fund, Centennial Major Acquisitions Income Fund, Robert Allerton Trust, The Mary and Leigh Block Endowment Fund, Ada Turnbull Hertle Fund, Purchased with funds provided by Harry A. Root, Wirt D. Walker Trust, Gladys N. Anderson Fund, Pauline Seipp Armstrong Fund, Edward E. Ayer Fund in Memory of Charles L. Hutchinson, European Decorative Arts Krehbiel Fund, Purchased with funds provided by Mr. and Mrs. Stanford Marks, Helen A. Regenstein Endowment, Samuel A. Marx Purchase Fund for Major Acquisitions, Laura T. Magnuson Acquisition Fund, The Marian and Samuel Klasstorner Fund, Maurice D. Galleher Endowment, Robert Allerton Purchase Fund, Bessie Bennett Fund, European Decorative Arts General fund, Edward Johnson Fund, Elizabeth R. Vaughn Fund, Annette Mathby Chapin Fund, Wentworth Greene Field Memorial Fund, Director's Fund, Purchased with funds provided by the Edward Byron Smith, Jr. Family Foundation, Samuel P. Avery Fund, Hugh Leander and Mary Trumbull Adams Memorial Endowment, Purchased with funds provided by the G-Bar Charitable Foundation, Betty Bell Spooner Fund, Purchased with funds provided by Elizabeth Souder Louis, Irving and June Seaman Endowment Fund, Charles U. Harris Endowed Acquistion Fund, S. DeWitt Clough Fund, Purchased with funds provided by the Woman's Board of the Alliance Francaise of Chicago, Grant J. Pick Purchase Fund, Purchased with funds provided by Ghenete Zelleke