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The Angry or Scowling Harlequin: C.1-1951

Object information

Current Location: Gallery 26 (Lower Marlay)


The Angry or Scowling Harlequin


Factory: Meissen Porcelain Factory
Modeller: Kändler, Johann Joachim




Hard-paste porcelain painted in enamels

Hard-paste porcelain, press-moulded, and painted overglaze in blue, green, turquoise-green, yellow, flesh pink, puce, red, and black enamels. The underside is flat and unglazed and has a small central ventilation hole which has been plugged. The shallow base is almost round and rises up at the back into a tree stump with a projecting root on the viewer's left. Harlequin stands on his left foot with his right foot beside it and his right knee bent, leaning back against the tree stump. His head is turned to his left, and he holds up a pipe in his right hand and in his left holds the remains of a slapstick next to his right thigh. He has black hair, eyebrows, and a patch on his cheek, and red mouth, turned down at the corners. He wears a grey broad-brimmed hat with a green flower and a red feather attached to the turned up brim; a white ruffle round his neck, a partly yellow and partly red, green and black chequered coat, trousers with one blue leg and one purple and white striped leg, and black shoes with yellow bows on top.


History note: Purchased from H. E. Backer, London

Legal notes

Purchased with the Cowper Reed Fund

Measurements and weight

Height: 18.7 cm

Place(s) associated

  • Meissen ⪼ Saxony ⪼ Germany

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bought (1951-01-06) by Backer, H.E.


18th Century, Mid
Frederick Augustus II (1696-1763)
Circa 1738 CE - 1746 CE


Johann Joachim Kaendler joined the staff of the Meissen porcelain factory in 1731 and was appointed chief modeller in 1733. Initially he produced many lifelike models of animals and birds for the Japanese Palace in Dresden, but from about 1735 turned his attention to small-scale human figures. By the end of the 1730s he had developed these as an independent European genre, which had a functional role as table decoration. Kaendler was an acute observer of character and as a result the postures and expressions of his human figures are extremely convincing. They mirror the gamut of mid-18th century society from beggars to kings, but not unnaturally the subjects chosen reflect chiefly the interests, activities and amusements of the Court at Dresden. Among the last, the exploits of Harlequin and his companions in the Commedia dell'Arte provided a fertile source of inspiration for the depiction of human emotions and predicaments. Kaendler portrayed several of the well-known characters, singly and in groups. This model does not appear in Kaendler's work records, as some large Harlequins do, but is considered to have been modelled between about 1738 and 1740 or up to 1746. Harlequin was usually modelled in a mischievous, playful or even pensive mood. Here by contrast he is shown glowering angrily. 'he 'scowling or angry Harlequin' is not one of Kaendler's most amiable figures, but its strong pose and bold colouring make it one of his most striking.

School or Style


People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Decoration composed of enamels ( blue, green, turquoise-green, yellow, flesh pink, puce, red, and black)
Base Width 7.7 cm

Materials used in production

clear Glaze
Hard-paste porcelain

Techniques used in production

Press-moulding : Hard-paste porcelain, press-moulded, and painted overglaze in blue, green, turquoise-green, yellow, flesh pink, puce, red, and black enamels.
Glazing (coating)

References and bibliographic entries

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.1-1951
Primary reference Number: 131028
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Tuesday 22 March 2022 Last processed: Friday 8 December 2023

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

Citation for print

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "The Angry or Scowling Harlequin" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-04-18 09:06:27

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