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Arts of Europe

The MFAH collections of art created on the European continent encompass artistic styles across the time line of history, from the ancient world to the Middle Ages, and the Early Modern era to the 21st century.

Meissen Porcelain Manufactory
German, established 1710
Plate from the Swan Service
c. 1737–41
Hard-paste porcelain

2 1/2 x 14 13/16 inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

The Rienzi Collection
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harris Masterson III

Arts of Europe

In 1710, Augustus the Strong—Elector of Saxony and King of Poland—established a porcelain factory after two of his workers discovered the formula for hard-paste porcelain, a coveted secret previously known only in Asia. Located in Meissen (in what is now Germany), the porcelain factory was placed under the supervision of the prime minister, Heinrich, Count von Bruhl, in 1733. Von Bruhl soon arranged for the production of a magnificent dinner service that would bear his coat of arms. Four years in the making, this famous set—known as the Swan Service—originally contained more than 2,200 pieces and remained in the possession of his family until after World War II.