For over forty years, Johann Joachim Kändler's inventiveness influenced porcelain makers at the Meissen porcelain manufactory. The Elector of Saxony and founder of Meissen, Frederick Augustus I, first appointed Kändler as his court sculptor in 1730. But a year later, Meissen hired Kändler as a porcelain modeler. When he became chief modeler in 1733, his duties expanded to directing other sculptors as well as making models for porcelain himself. Among his first projects were models for large, white birds and animals for the Elector's Japanese Palace in Dresden, some of which were more than three feet high.
Although admired for their sense of movement and naturalism, these animals were extremely difficult and expensive to produce and sell. As a result, Kändler began producing smaller, more accessible pieces, including figures and groups based on characters from the Italian commedia dell'arte.Shepherds, huntsmen, monkey musicians, and actors were some of the more than a thousand different subjects he produced. His influence at Meissen decreased after 1764, but by then he had established the porcelain figure as its own distinctive art form.