Sake bottle

Made at Meissen Manufactory (Germany)

Object Place: Europe, Meissen, Germany


20.8 x 5 cm (8 3/16 x 1 15/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Hard-paste porcelain with colored enamel and gilded decoration

On View

Angelica Lloyd Russell Gallery (Gallery 142)





The quadrangular, pear-shaped bottles have elongated necks and are approximately square in cross section (both apparently warped in the kiln). The flat bases are unglazed. The pale turquoise ground extends from the shoulder of each bottle to the square foot. A quatrefoil reserve, centered on each side, is framed by a double gilt band enclosing a simple linear motif. Each reserve contains sprays of flowers painted in the Kakiemon style in iron-red, blue, turquoise, green, yellow, puce, and gold. On each bottle are two different arrangements of these flowers, each one repeated on the reverse. Two reserves on one bottle include a shoot of bamboo painted in turquoise; a bird painted in the same color appears in two reserves on the other bottle. The white neck is decorated with a gilt band below the mouth and, at the shoulder, with a gilt band with scrollwork above; the pattern of this scrollwork is identical on the two bottles.

European factories often imitated Asian forms without having much sense of their original purpose. It’s a safe bet that few in Meissen had ever tasted sake, the Japanese rice wine.


(1) on base, in cobalt blue (very faint): crossed swords; wheel-cut: Johanneum mark N = 332 - over W; in ink: old inventory number 280 and other numerals
(2) on base, impressed: MB in monogram


Collection of Augustus the Strong. Baroness Renée de Becker, Brussels, New York, Rome. June, 1958, purchased in New York by Rita and Frits Markus; 1979, gift of Rita and Frits Markus to the MFA.

Credit Line

Gift of Rita and Frits Markus