Sultan Riding an Elephant, ca. 1749

  • Johann Joachim Kändler, German, 1706-1775
  • Meissen Porcelain Manufactory, German, founded 1710
  • Peter Reinicke, German, 1715-1768

Hard-paste porcelain, vitreous enamel, gold; bronze, gold

  • Overall: 15 3/8 × 14 1/2 × 8 7/8 inches (39.1 × 36.8 × 22.5 cm)

Museum Purchase, Robert H. Tannahill Foundation Fund, Gilbert B.and Lila Silverman, and the Visiting Committee for European Sculputure and Decorative Arts

2004.11

On View

  • Fashionable Living: S330.7

Department

European Sculpture and Dec Arts

  • Hard paste porcelain
  • Bronze
  • Ormolu
  • Ceramic
  • Gold
  • Figures (representations)
  • Ruler (person)
  • Figurine
  • Vitreous enamel
  • Meissen
  • Elephant

As the first European factory to develop a formula for Chinese hard-paste porcelain, the Meissen Porcelain Manufactory near Dresden earned a reputation for exquisitely modeled and delicately painted sculpture. This was due in great part to the imaginative and complex figural designs of modeler Johann Joachim Kändler, court sculptor to Frederick-Augustus I of Saxony (Augustus the Strong). Every detail of the Sultan Riding an Elephant is rendered with impeccable precision. The dignified demeanor of the sultan—from the red peak of his jeweled turban to the turned-up toe of his yellow shoes—projects a majesty beyond the small scale of the work. The energetic form of his driver, perched on the head of the compliant elephant, enlivens the ensemble. The gilded details and the Parisian-made mid-18th century ormolu (gilded bronze) scroll-work base add richness to a subject that would appeal as much for its whimsy as its evocation of the exotic and glamorous East. From Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts 89 (2015)

1990, M. Raymond Esq. (Belchamp Hall, Suffolk, England)

July 4, 1996, sold by (Christie's, London, England) lot 247 (By 2003, Angela Gräfin von Wallwitz, Munich, Germany)

2004-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)

Gräfin von Wallwitz, A., ed. Meissen Porcelain for Gentlemen. Munich, 2005, St. 416, p. 172; pp. 114-115 (ill.). Darr, Alan. P. and Brian Gallagher. "Recent acquisitions (2000-2006) of European sculpture and decorative arts at The Detroit Institute of Arts." The Burlington Magazine 149, no. 1251 (June 2007): p. 451, pl. VII (ill.). You, Yao-Fen. “From Novelty to Necessity: The Europeanization of Coffee, Tea, and Chocolate.” In Coffee, Tea, and Chocolate: Consuming the World, ed. Yao-Fen You, Mimi Hellman, and Hope Saska. Exh. cat., Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 2016, p. 27 (ill.); 29; 131, cat. 16. Bulletin of the DIA: Notable Acquisitions, 2000–2015 89, no. 1/4 (2015): p. 28 (ill.).

Meissen Porcelain Manufactory; after a model by Johann Joachim Kändler; after a model by Peter Reinicke, Sultan Riding an Elephant, ca. 1749, hard-paste porcelain, vitreous enamel, gold; bronze, gold. Detroit Institute of Arts, Museum Purchase, Robert H. Tannahill Foundation Fund, Gilbert B.and Lila Silverman, and the Visiting Committee for European Sculputure and Decorative Arts, 2004.11.