The origin of Meissen figures
The idea for making small figures in porcelain came from the sugar ornaments seen on fashionable dining tables all over Europe at the beginning of the 18th century. The sugar would be pressed into a mould to form figures, temples, gates, carriages, gardens, and many other forms. These were very expensive and, of course, ephemeral, since they could be eaten
The arrival of porcelain made these figures more permanent, and more valuable. Many porcelain figures — from those in pastoral scenes to depictions of street traders — were in fact designed as table decorations, and not made to sit in cabinets as they do today.
The figures could be satirical, mythological or allegorical, and were designed to convey information about their owners — their level of scholarship, their military prowess, or even their sense of humour.
Erich Oehme 1889 – 1970
German sculptor, best known for his models of animals, big as life or as little porcelain figures manufactured by Meissen. He became famous for his strongly interpreted animal models.
After his study in arts and crafts at the Dresden academy, Oehme became active as a professional sculptor. In 1912 he became an occasional sculptor for the Nymphenburg and Meissen factories, by 1938 he was director of art at Meissen. In the art deco period, his figures were stylised and fluid. Others remained extremely realistic and highly detailed. At Meissen, he often worked in boettger steinzeug (a very fine red clay) that produced a beautiful creamy and smooth finish on his pieces. Oehme’s work was also produced by Volkstedt and LichteVEB.