, 55.166, ca. 1753, Porcelain with enamels, glaze, and gilding; Height: 17.5 cm (6 7/8 inches) (overall), Bequest of Miss Lucy T. Aldrich 55.169
The monkey as art subject became so popular during the 1700s that the genre was given its own name ‘singerie’, after the French word for monkey (singe). It featured fashionably attired monkeys parodying human activities, here a performance by a musical group. Intricate detailing on the twenty-four pieces of The Monkey Band reveals the modeling skills of the Meissen factory’s Johann Joachim Kändler. His sense of movement and naturalism elevated these rococo-style porcelain figures to the level of fine art. As master modeler at Meissen for more than forty years, Kändler took the medium to new heights of imagination and technical finesse, bringing world renown to Europe’s first manufacturer of true hard-paste porcelain. Such figures reached the apex of their popularity as amusing table decorations between 1740 and 1750.