The same year that the world-famous statue of Bavaria on Theresienhöhe in Munich was officially inaugurated, its porcelain sister, only 20 centimetres tall, left the kiln of the Nymphenburg master workshops. Ludwig Michael von Schwanthaler was responsible for both designs. He was one of the masters of Classicist sculpture in southern Germany. He deliberately dressed the secular patron of Bavaria in Germanic-style clothing, namely a simple draping robe and bearskin. The raised wreath of oak leaves in her left hand is her gift to honourable individuals.
In Bavaria the dirndl and woollen jackets are equally typical articles of smart attire as a suit, dinner jacket or little black dress. This Miesbach Woman, designed by Resl Schröder-Lechner in 1937, shows just how intricate and special the traditional costumes, mostly handmade, are to this day. Wholly in keeping, in formal terms, with the tradition of 19th-century Alpine genre figures, this vivacious figure with her delicately formed features slightly resembles the Austrian artist, who died in 2000, who made her.
In no other German state is traditional dress such an intrinsic part of the social image as in Bavaria. Be it an opera ball or forest festival – the traditional dress is a must on all festive occasions. As artistic director of the Manufactory, as early as 1850 Eugen Napoleon Neureuther introduced this Munich Townswoman for the master workshops. On her way to church, she is wearing her Sunday best with bodice, shawl and blouse. Her hair is carefully styled under her tied bonnet, and she is holding a prayer book in her right hand.
With the opening of the Alps to tourists in the 19th century, the traditional inhabitants, with their fine garb, also became a subject of artistic interest. This 24-centimetre-tall Tölz Rifleman by Resl Schröder-Lechner from 1937 is among the Manufactory’s accurate designs in every detail. The sculptress primarily based her painting of down-to-earth, rural types on real historical clothing. And although today, frack coats have only half as many buttons, the mountain rifleman’s outfit remains virtually unchanged to this day.
Although the sculptor Ernst Andreas Rauch, born in Teisendorf in northern Bavaria, was not a “Munich Child Monk”, in 1945 he designed for the Manufactory such a splendid porcelain version of the figure on Munich’s official coat of arms. Enraptured, the child monk, just 13 centimetres tall, takes the oath. He is clutching the Gospel in his left hand. The boy’s reverent yet impish expression and the fluttering folds of his cowl continue the masterly tradition of the Manufactory’s master workshops.
Worship of Mary as the patron of Bavaria has a long tradition. Thus a great many different artists devoted themselves to portraying the crowned Mother of God. As a freelance artist, between 1934 and 1976 Franz Xaver Lorch created numerous designs for the Manufactory. In 1946, the specialist in monumental religious wooden sculptures created this 34-centimetre-tall likeness of the Patrona Bavariae in glazed, ivory-coloured porcelain, in which Mary seems wholly inwardly focused. The Baby Jesus on her arm has his hand raised in blessing.
Worship of Mary as Patrona Bavariae was officially introduced under Prince Elector Maximilian I. To give thanks that Munich and Landshut managed to avoid the war, in 1638 he had the famous statue of the Mother of God erected on Marienplatz in Munich. It served as the model for the 45-centimetre-tall protector of Bavaria that Franz Xaver Lorch, who created monumental, large religious sculptures, designed for the Manufactory in 1955. Bearing the insignia of sovereignty of the crown, sceptre and globus cruciger, Mary, standing on the crescent moon, is carrying the Baby Jesus on her left arm.
Admittedly, Munich lives up to its reputation as the city of singles. Yet whenever the Austrian artist Resl Schröder-Lechner designed figures for the Manufactory’s master workshops, neither man nor woman could remain alone. Until her death in 2000, Schröder-Lechner always presented her smart figures from the Traditional Dress group in pairs. The design of the outfits was often preceded by in-depth research into historical dress. And this well-dressed Munich Man in frock coat and waistcoat is no exception. The figure, designed in 1986, is wearing the elegant dress of a gentleman burgher.
The group of Munich Citizens of Old from the late 1980s shows just how extensive and timeless Resl Schroeder-Lechner’s Manufactory oeuvre really is, which also includes this 21-centimetre-tall figure of a Munich Woman. Like Franz Anton Bustelli, Schröder-Lechner also enjoyed presenting his characters in pairs. Thus this lady in smart dress, with a shawl and gold headscarf, is accompanied by an equally well-dressed gentleman.
Every seven years, the traditional Coopers’ dance begins on the Epiphany on Marienplatz in front of the City Hall. This Munich crafts custom, the only public one still existing, celebrates victory over the plague in 1517. It was reason enough for Resl Schröder-Lechner to immortalise one of the dapper craftsmen of the art of barrel-making in a figurine. The red-coated dancer is cheerfully swinging his green boxwood garland. It is most likely a charming coincidence that the gentleman with the moustache resembles the current Mayor of Munich. For when the Austrian sculptress designed this dancing Cooper in 1988, Christian Ude was still five years away from moving into City Hall.