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The Luxury of the Centerpiece

by Josh Green

Johann Joachim Kändler German, 1706-1775 Apollo, from the ‘Apollo Bath’ centerpiece, c. 1748 Porcelain with clear glaze 21 3/16 in. (53.8 cm) Ackland Art Museum, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gift of the William E. Shipp Estate, by exchange 2012.7

Apollo, from the ‘Apollo Bath’ centerpiece is a porcelain sculpture of the god Apollo reclining on a flower-covered rock. Apollo sits partially clothed with his right arm outstretched and his head encircled by laurel leaves. Apollo is a fitting subject for such a centerpiece as he is the god of music, poetry, and other fine arts (Apollon). Originally, the sculpture was part of a set that included a number of nymphs designed to surround the reclining god, but all elements except the centerpiece have been lost to history (European Art). It is likely that this particular piece was designed for a dessert table, as floral imagery was especially popular for dessert centerpieces. Interestingly, the centerpieces of dessert tables used to be created from sugar until porcelain was readily available in Europe (Nichols).

For many years porcelain was imported from China, with pieces often designed and produced with European style and taste in mind. However, beginning around 1710, artists in the German Meissen factory learned to produce porcelain and began creating works of art like the Apollo (Naturalistic Spoon). Johann Joachim Kändler, the artist who created this particular piece worked at the Meissen factory for over 40 years after leaving the service of King Augustus II of Poland (Naturalistic Spoon). During his life, he was one of the most well-known porcelain sculptors in Europe.


Works Cited

Atsma, Aaron J. “Apollon,” Theoi Greek Mythology. Retrieved from

Manners, E & H. “European art of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.” (No. 2.2.2015). Ackland Art Museum. Retrieved from

Nichols, Sarah. “At table: High style in the 18th century.” Retrieved from

Yamauchi, Seiji. “Johann Joachim Kändler/ Kaendler (1706-1775),” Naturalistic Spoon. Retrieved from


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