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Johann Joachim Kaendler, German, 17061775
made by the Meissen Porcelain Manufactory, Germany
Pair of Vases from the Swan Service, 1738
glazed and gilded porcelain with gilded copper-alloy mounts
each: 23 x 11 5/8 x 10 7/8 inches
Museum Purchase 36:1945a,b

Four magnificent swans spread their wings and twist their necks behind them to form the handles of these vases. Originally, these two elaborate pieces were part of a lavish set of dinnerware. Referred to as the Swan Service, it was a gift presented to a German count in honor of his wedding. The set consisted of more than 2,000 pieces that could serve up to one hundred guests. The gold coats of arms on the bodies of the vases were those of the two families being joined by marriage. Because swans mate for life, these graceful birds are often associated with weddings. The Swan Service was presented to wish the bride and groom a long and happy life together.

For younger students:
Look carefully at the pair of vases; are they exactly alike? How are they different?
The vases belong to a much larger set of dishes that would have been used for fancy dinner parties.What would you use these two vases for?

For older students:
Why did the designer choose to decorate the vases with swans?
The vases are made out of porcelain.Why do you think the maker used porcelain instead of silver or bronze?

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