University Museums

Title: Broken Footbridge
Name: Figurine
Date: 19th century
Medium: Porcelain
Country/Culture: German
Dimensions: 9 7/8 × 6 1/8 × 5 in. (25.1 × 15.6 × 12.7 cm)
Marks: In underglaze blue, Meissen trademark of cross-swords. 66. Painted in red enamel, painter's mark. 163 impressed into base, across one of underglaze blue swords, modeler’s number. F 63. Inscribed into base, model number.
Classification: Decorative Arts, Ceramics
Credit Line: Gift of Ann and Henry Brunnier. In the permanent collection of the Brunnier Art Museum, University Museums, Iowa State University.
Object Number: 2.6.50
More Information
With the onset of the Seven Years War in 1756, Meissen entered a transitional period of increasing German and French competition and shifts in popular tastes. In 1764, a young Frenchman named Michel-Victor Acier was appointed joint model master with Johann Joachim Käendler as Meissen fought to keep up with current fashion which was abandoning the more classical baroque for asymmetrical rococo designs. Acier was brought to Meissen to introduce new emerging styles with the intent of reviving the factory’s export trade after the war. Acier’s neoclassical sentimental style was incongruous with the work of Käendler. However, Acier’s work was preferred by the court, causing hostility between the two artists.

These figures typify Acier’s style of combining neoclassical ideas with moralizing and sentimentality. Acier was inclined to use harsher colors and more fret, or open, ornamentation than is seen in earlier Meissen sculpture. The practice of using earlier molds during the nineteenth century was precipitated by the rise of the middle class during the Victorian era. Porcelain, which became cheaper to make, was declining in popularity among the affluent. However, the middle class presented a new market to manufacturers. Porcelain became more affordable, and the overly dramatic and romantic eighteenth century molds suited Victorian tastes.