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Conductor for the Monkey Band

A work made of hard-paste porcelain, polychrome enamels, and gilding.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of hard-paste porcelain, polychrome enamels, and gilding.


c. 1765


Germany, Meissen
Modeled by Johann Joachim Kändler (German, 1706–1775) and Peter Reinicke (German, active mid-18th century)
Meissen Porcelain Manufactory (German, founded 1710)

About this artwork

In 1733, the sculptor Johann Joachim Kändler became the chief modeler at the Meissen Porcelain Manufactory, a position he held until his death in 1775. Kändler, along with his assistant Peter Reinicke, devised novel and innovative forms and figures for Meissen porcelain. One of the most admired products of the factory were the monkey bands, witty examples of 18th-century singerie: subjects in which monkeys literally “ape” the behavior of supposedly more sophisticated humans.

The first version of the monkey band was designed in 1753 and Madame de Pompadour, mistress of King Louis XV of France and a discerning patron of the arts, ordered a set at Christmas of that year. The group was so popular that it was reissued in the early 1760s. The Art Institute’s monkey band comes from this second edition.

In addition to a conductor and two female singers, the orchestra consists of musicians playing wind, string, and percussion instruments. There are also two instruments that were associated with rustic rather than courtly music: the bagpipe and the hurdy gurdy, in which the sound is produced by turning a hand crank that rotates a wheel that bows a set of strings.


Currently Off View


Applied Arts of Europe


Meissen Porcelain Manufactory (Manufacturer)


Conductor for the Monkey Band


Meissen (Object made in)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Hard-paste porcelain, polychrome enamels, and gilding


17.8 × 14 × 6.7 cm (7 × 5 1/2 × 2 5/8 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Robert Allerton

Reference Number


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