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European pottery and porcelain

Classical Greek & Roman Antiquites

Ancient Greek Ceramics During the Archaic period (700-480 BC), pottery was decorated in black and red by firing different clays together (not by painting). Up to about 530BC, the decoration was done in black on a red background; after 530 BC, the decoration was done in red on a black background. The heads of all […]  Continue Reading »

European Ceramics – Faience

From Italy, manufacture of tin-glazed painted pottery spread to France, where it was referred to as “faience” after the Italian town of Faenza from which it was imported.  Faience was made in France from the 14th century but it took the arrival of Italian migrants in the early 16th  century to stimulate production.  Factories were […]  Continue Reading »

European Ceramics – Majolica

European pottery from before the Renaissance is scarce because the belief that the Black Death could be transmitted by pottery vessels led to their mass destruction. In the 15th century, tin-glazed wares, often with a metallic lustre, based on Moorish techniques, were being produced in Spain mainly for storage jars. The early Spanish tin-glazed wares […]  Continue Reading »

European Ceramics – Quimper

Quimper in Brittany has been a centre of pottery production since the 17th century. Quimper’s first factory was established in 1695 by Jean-Baptiste Bousquet. At first the factory made blue and white faience but in 1743 the factory was taken over by Pierre Caussy who began making chinoiserie and rococo pieces in the Rouen style. […]  Continue Reading »

European Ceramics – Delft

Tin-glazed pottery also reached the Netherlands, probably through Italian migrants who settled in the Netherlands in 1508. Factories were set up in Antwerp, Rotterdam, Haarlem and The Hague but, by the early 17th century, Delft became the predominant centre.  At the beginning of the 17th century, two ships arrived in Delft laden with cargoes of […]  Continue Reading »

European Ceramics – Gouda

From about 1900, a number of factories in Gouda, Holland, began producing a unique type of ware which represented a transition between Art Nouveau and Art Deco. Earlier pieces had stylised flower patterns; more realistic flowers representations appeared later. Early pieces also used a lighter coloured matt glaze. Production slowed after the mid-1930s.    Gouda […]  Continue Reading »

European Ceramics – Gzhel

Gzhel pottery began in the 14th century with wares made by potters in their homes in a group of villages located southeast of Moscow. These potters soon started to organize into workshops which eventually became a factory. The earliest pieces were earthenware, painted solid white with distinctive blue designs. Majolica pottery, with coloured glaze designs […]  Continue Reading »

European Ceramics – Meissen

In the early 1700s, Augustus the Strong, Elector of Saxony, decided that he should be able to manufacture porcelain to compete with the Chinese. He forcibly enlisted an alchemist, Frederich Bottger, to assist him in finding the formula. In 1708, Bottger produced a near-porcelain, using alabaster. In 1710, Augustus established the Royal Saxon Porcelain factory […]  Continue Reading »

European Ceramics – Sevres

In 1745, the French had established a factory at Vincennes with a 20-year monopoly on the production of porcelain in the style of Meissen. In 1748, the technique for gilding porcelain was discovered and, from 1749, gilding. In 1752, an underglaze blue, called “bleu lapis”, was introduced. From that time, the use of dark blue […]  Continue Reading »

European Ceramics – Royal Copenhagen

The first ceramic factory in Copenhagen was established in 1722 to make blue and white pottery in the Delft style. A second factory was set up in 1755 to produce soft paste porcelain. In 1760, Louis Fournier introduced techniques he had learned at Sevres and the reputation of the Danish factory began to spread. In […]  Continue Reading »

European Ceramics – Russian Imperial Porcelain

The first porcelain manufactory in Russia was founded in 1744. The factory produced wares exclusively for the Russian Imperial court and the ruling Romanov family. This Russian porcelain was similar to German porcelain in composition, although made from of Russian ingredients. In the beginning, its decoration was monochrome and simple but by the 1760s, fine […]  Continue Reading »

European Ceramics – Villeroy & Boch

François Boch and his three sons set up a pottery company in the village of Audun le Tiche in the Duchy of Lorraine (now in France) in 1748. In 1766, one of François’ sons, Pierre-Joseph, received authority from Empress Maria Theresia of Austria to set up a “Manufacture Impériale et Royale” in nearby Luxembourg to […]  Continue Reading »

European Ceramics – Biedermeier (KPM)

The period after the Napoleonic period in the Austro-Hungarian Empire saw the rise of the middle classes, culminating in a series of revolutions in 1848. The style of porcelain developed for the newly influential middle class became known as “Biedermeier” (originally a derogatory term. The Biedermeier style was a simplified version of the neo-classical style […]  Continue Reading »