Saturday, November 17, 2007

French Porcelain

French Porcelain: Develops under court patronage. Soft-paste porcelain—made without the ingredient kaolin—was first manufactured in France in the late 17th century. No source of kaolin in France until 1768; soft paste still favoured until 19th c. Several important factories were founded, most around Paris. The earliest commercial porcelain was made at Saint-Cloud in about 1693. The Chantilly factory was founded by Louis-Henry de Bourbon, prince de Condé (1692–1740) in 1730. Chantilly moves to Vincennes (1738).
At bequest of Mme. Pompadour (favorite of Louis XV) moved to Sevres outside Paris 1756. Sevres granted exclusive privilege to make wares "in the style of Saxony" (Meissen) for 20 years—no need to pursue commercial success. Completely tied to system of power, intrigue of court. Employs hundreds of workers, some of greatest French artists, 7 specialist workshops—fashionable decorative objects, special effects--reserves ("camaieu") painted with fantasy scenes-Chinoiserie, rococo influence--potpourris, garnitures, plaques, opera glasses, ice buckets, table wares.
At the château of Vincennes, east of Paris, in 1740, under the aristocratic patronage of Jean-Louis Orry de Fulvy (1703-51), a soft-paste porcelain factory was established by former Chantilly workmen, In 1745, the factory, under Charles Adam, Orry de Fulvy’s valet, was granted a 20-year royal privilege to manufacture porcelain painted in the Meissen style with figures and gilding. Following Orry de Fulvy’s death, the factory experienced financial difficulties but began a new phase in 1752 when Louis XV, king of France (1723-74) acquired one quarter of the shares. The factory was then renamed the manufacture du roi (royal manufactory) and was granted official permission to mark its pieces with the royal cipher of interlaced L’s. In 1756 the factory moved to Sèvres.
Sèvres: In 1756 the factory of Vincennes relocated to Sèvres, a village near Versailles close to the château of Bellevue, owned by Madame de Pompadour (1721-64) the mistress of Louis XV and an important patron. In 1759 Louis XV took over complete financial control of the factory. A goldsmith, Jean-Claude Duplessis (c.1695-1774) was appointed as the artistic director of sculpture. The factory’s products were strongly influenced by the designs of François Boucher (1703-70), whose graceful, rococo style superseded imitations of Meissen and Asian porcelain.
In 1769 Sèvres began producing hard-paste porcelain, following the discovery of kaolin at Saint-Yrieix, near Limoges, in 1765. Although restrictions on the establishment of porcelain factories in France were relaxed to encourage the development of hard-paste porcelain, Sèvres retained its royal patronage and excusive right to produce sculptural, multi-coloured and gilded porcelain. The factory was nationalized in 1793, following the abolition of the monarchy, and is still in existence today.
Coloured grounds: rose pompadour, bleu celeste, bleu lapis. Inkstand: 1758, soft paste, green ground, decorated with cherubs, gilding-likely made for daughter of Louis XV, Mme Adelaide—crown once contained bell; terrestrial globe-ink; celestial globe contained sand-sprinkled through holes to dry ink on page-little cameo of Louis XV on side. Wallace Collection (London-collected Sevres especially with aristocrats fleeing Revolution). 19th c. under Alexander Broignart, factory abandons soft paste for hard. More "high-tech," clean, industrial, imitate any material: virtuosity and luxury. Soft paste examples from ancien regime highly sought after by wealthy reliving fantasy of past.

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