Comparative Literature :
Rainer Rückert, Meissener Porrzellan 1710-1810, Bayerisches Nationalmuseum, 1966, p. 269, no. 1094.
Pug dogs were immensely popular in Germany in the 1740’s and were a symbol of the Order of the Pug or Mopsen Order, founded n Germany as a pseudo-masonic society following the excommunication of the Freemasons in 1738. Porcelain pugs were very fashionable and exported to France to be mounted with gilt-bronze by the Parisian marchands-merciers. The decoration and pose of the pugs with their naturalistic colouring is typical of the wares produced by Meissen during the rococo period.
The pug dogs were modelled by Johann Joachim Kändler (1706-1755) in 1741 and several variations on this model were produced by the Meissen factory over the following three years. One version was modelled on the dog belonging to Count Brühl, the director of the factory. There is a female example illustrated by Ruckert op. cit., p.269, no. 1094, which has been dated to 1749 and he records that smaller versions of the offered model but facing in the opposite direction were made in 1741 for Augustus II.
Whilst examples of porcelain pug dogs are recorded, it is very rare to find a pair mounted on its original gilt-bronze base as the present pair.
The inventory taken after Madame de Pompadour’s death in 1764 records as coming from the Château de Compiègne, which illustrates the popularity of these pug dogs amongst the arbiters of taste :
`1731 Four painted and gilded yellow brass branches, with porcelain flowers and two Saxe dogs, one of which is mutilated....XXXVI.’
A related pair of Meissen pug dogs seated on a tasselled cushion on a gilt-bronze rocaille base, with five Louis XV candlebranches, was sold as lot 87 from the collection of M. Ghislain Provost, from the Château du Vert Bois, Sotheby’s, Paris, 9th December 2005. The aforementioned candelebra are described in the 1812 inventory of the Borghese Palace in Rome which were then sold in the Borghese sale in Paris, on 2nd of July in 1891, lot 155.
Johann Joachim Kändler (1706-1755) :
Kändler first worked on the fittings of the Grünes Gewolbe and caught the attention of Augustus the Strong and although he trained as a sculptor, in 1731, he was sent to Meissen to work with Johann Kirchner on the production of birds and animals on a large-scale for the Porzellanschloss. He was appointed chief modeller in 1733 a title he retained until his death. He worked from life in his modelling which was highly unorthodox, which accounts for the great naturalism and sense of movement in his work. From 1736, he also became involved in the production of smaller figures many of which were based and adapted from French engravings which had been sent to the factory.