Porcelain

Porcelain is a type of pottery made by firing the clay mineral kaolin and other raw materials at very high temperatures in a kiln. Porcelain is often considered the finest type of pottery, on account of its bright white colour, delicacy and strength. Porcelain can be easily modelled and combines well with both glazes and paint, meaning that a huge range of decorative treatments are available for porcelain creations, such as vases, tableware and figurines

The ceramic material porcelain can be broadly divided into two different types: hard-paste and soft-paste porcelain. The difference between these depends on both the firing conditions and the composition of the paste that is used to make the porcelain.

Hard-paste porcelains originated in east Asia, which was responsible for some of the finest hard-paste porcelain wares available. Porcelain was initially developed in China, around the 1st and 2nd Centuries AD.

The production of porcelain took a long time to develop, and it was not until the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD) that China began to produce truly impressive, high quality porcelain wares. It was during this time that the manufacture of porcelain became thoroughly organised, meaning that one kiln site could fire as many as 25,000 wares.

Despite the progress made during the rule of the Song Dynastry, it is the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644 AD) that is truly associated with antique Chinese porcelain. During this time, porcelain began to be exported to Europe, and some of the best know Chinese porcelain decorative styles became know, such as the blue-and-white wares. Porcelain wares produced during the Ming Dynasty remain exceptionally highly prized today, and such works sell for staggeringly high figures at auction.

In 15th Century Europe, Chinese imported porcelain was regarded so highly that the term 'china' became synonymous with any porcelain ware, and remains in use today. Astonishingly, given the widespread use and immediate popularity of Chinese ceramics, porcelain production did not begin in Europe until the 16th Century. When it did begin, the techniques and materials used to create Chinese porcelain were not yet understood, and so second rate, soft-paste creations were made. 

16th Century soft-paste porcelains represent the earliest attempts by European craftsmen to replicate Chinese hard-paste porcelain wares. These tenacious European potters used mixtures of clay, frit, soapstone and lime to make the soft-paste creations. However, these first soft-paste wares were of low quality, uneconomic and often problematic to produce, with many works losing their shape when fired. Technically and aesthetically superior soft-paste porcelains were soon created using a range of alternative materials; these type of soft-paste porcelain wares continue to be produced today.

Europe did not start producing hard-paste porcelain wares until the early 18th Century. These were formed of a paste comprising alabaster and kaolin, and produced porcelain items of a great strength, hardness and translucency when fired. It was Meissen, the famous German porcelain manufacturer, who was responsible for producing these very first hard-paste porcelain wares in Europe, which quickly became hugely popular among wealthy European royalty and nobility. The French firm of Sèvres, which was founded slightly later than its German counterpart, soon began to create fine hard-paste porcelain items too. Once porcelain production had become established as a European craft, it flourished, and the output of renowned makers reached unsurpassed levels of quality and beauty.

Today, fine antique European and Asian porcelain remains as highly prized as ever, with examples held in prestigious museums and galleries across the world.

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Style
  1. Sèvres 59
  2. Rococo 59
  3. Figurative Art 57
  4. Neoclassical 48
  5. Floral 43
  6. Louis XV 23
  7. Louis XVI 18
  8. Meissen 17
  9. Chinese Interest 16
  10. Empire 12
  11. Classical 12
  12. Belle Époque 12
  13. Orientalist 11
  14. Fête Galante 11
  15. Renaissance 11
  16. Chinoiserie 10
  17. Birds / Ornithology 9
  18. Mythological 9
  19. Russian Interest 9
  20. Old Master 9
  21. Napoleon III 7
  22. Portrait 7
  23. Religious 7
  24. Biblical 7
  25. Animal / Animalier 7
  26. Royal / Monarchy 6
  27. Academic 6
  28. Genre 5
  29. Urban Views / Townscapes 5
  30. Japonisme 5
  31. Christian 5
  32. Persian interest 4
  33. Militaria / Military 4
  34. Islamic 4
  35. Japanese Interest 4
  36. Landscape 3
  37. Napoleonic 3
  38. Shakespeare, Theatre & Literature 3
  39. Gothic 3
  40. Victorian 3
  41. Baroque 3
  42. Romantic 3
  43. Meiji 2
  44. Marine / Seascape 2
  45. History Painting 2
  46. Equestrian / Horses 2
  47. Restauration 2
  48. Satsuma 1
  49. Neo-Grec 1
  50. 20th and 21st Century Design 1
  51. Moorish 1
  52. Abstract 1
  53. Jewish 1
  54. Hunting 1
  55. Contemporary 1
  56. Capodimonte 1
  57. Arabesque 1
  58. Neo-Gothic 1
Material
  1. Porcelain 252
  2. Ormolu (Gilt Bronze) 117
  3. Gilt 33
  4. Giltwood 22
  5. Wood 9
  6. Ebonised Wood 6
  7. Velvet 6
  8. Marble 5
  9. Kingwood 4
  10. Brass 4
  11. Onyx 4
  12. Enamel 3
  13. Parquetry 3
  14. Mahogany 3
  15. Bronze 3
  16. Silver 2
  17. Rosewood 2
  18. Bisque (biscuit) porcelain 2
  19. Marquetry 2
  20. Metal 2
  21. Mirror 2
  22. Enamel - Champlevé 2
  23. Satinwood 2
  24. Cut Glass 2
  25. Silk 1
  26. Semi-precious stones 1
  27. Tulipwood 1
  28. Oak 1
  29. Precious Stones 1
  30. Cast Iron 1
  31. Lapis Lazuli 1
  32. Iron 1
  33. Hardwood 1
  34. Glass 1
  35. Crystal 1
  36. Amboyna 1
Colour
  1. Multi-coloured 188
  2. Gold 186
  3. Blue 93
  4. White 79
  5. Green 40
  6. Brown 31
  7. Red 30
  8. Pink 24
  9. Cream 17
  10. Turquoise 12
  11. Black 12
  12. Purple 8
  13. Orange 6
  14. Yellow 6
  15. Silver 4
  16. Grey 3
  17. Metallic 2
  18. Clear 1
Country Of Origin
  1. French 125
  2. German 60
  3. Russian 16
  4. English 14
  5. Continental 14
  6. Chinese 13
  7. Austrian 11
  8. Japanese 4
  9. Italian 3
  10. Asian 2
  11. Bohemian 2
  12. British 1
  13. Czech 1
  14. Danish 1
  15. Swiss 1
Period
  1. Late 19th Century 114
  2. 19th Century 78
  3. Early 20th Century 26
  4. Early 19th Century 18
  5. 20th Century 10
  6. 18th Century and Earlier 5
  7. 21st Century 1
Artist / Maker
  1. Sèvres (French, founded 1738) 47
  2. Meissen Porcelain Manufactory (German, founded 1710) 27
  3. KPM, Konigliche Porzellan-Manufaktur (German, founded 1763) 24
  4. Royal Vienna Porcelain Manufactory (Austrian, founded 1718) 9
  5. Picard, Henri (French, fl. 1831-1864) 5
  6. Dresden Porcelain Manufactory (German, active from 1865) 4
  7. Samson et Cie (French, 1845-1969) 3
  8. Ross, Donald (British, 1830-1916) 3
  9. Barbedienne, Ferdinand (French, 1810-1892) 3
  10. Petit, Jacob (French, 1797-1868) 3
  11. Sévin, Louis-Constant (French, 1821-1888) 3
  12. Dagoty and Honore (French, active early 19th Century) 2
  13. Edwards & Roberts (British, founded 1845) 2
  14. Gardner Porcelain Factory, (Russian, founded 1766) 2
  15. Royal Worcester (British, founded 1750) 2
  16. Raingo Frères (French, founded in 1823) 2
  17. Imperial Porcelain Factory (Russian, founded 1744) 2
  18. Royal Dux (Bohemian, founded 1860) 2
  19. Popov Manufactory (Russian, 1811-1875) 2
  20. Royer, Ernest (French, active second half of 19th Century) 2
  21. Feuillet, Jean-Pierre (French, 1777-1840) 1
  22. A. M. E. Fournier (French, founded 1850) 1
  23. P.A.L.T, Porzellanfabrik Adolf Laufer (Czech, 1919-1938) 1
  24. Silvani (French, active second half 19th Century) 1
  25. Sitzendorf (German, founded 1760) 1
  26. Tétard Frères (French, founded 1880) 1
  27. Vezzini and Chen (British, contemporary) 1
  28. Wahliss, Ernest (Austrian, 1837-1900) 1
  29. Skerrett, James (British, b. 1954) 1
  30. Alex'r M. Hays (American, fl.19th Century) 1
  31. Royal Copenhagen (Danish, founded 1775) 1
  32. Grade, Louis (French, active 19th Century) 1
  33. Besche (French, 1851-1899) 1
  34. Charles Oudin (French, founded 1797) 1
  35. Copeland (British, c. 1833-1966) 1
  36. Dihl et Guérhard (French, 1781-c.1824) 1
  37. Dursley (British, founded 20th Century) 1
  38. Gille Jeune (French, 1798-1868) 1
  39. Julius Greiner & Sohn (German, active from 1871) 1
  40. Royal Bonn (German, founded 1836) 1
  41. Kornilov Brothers (Russian, est. 1835) 1
  42. Kreisser, Edouard (French, fl. 1843-1863) 1
  43. Miroy Frères, Paris (fl. mid-19th Century) 1
  44. Nast Porcelain Manufactory (French, 1783-1835) 1
  45. Pauly & Co. (Italian, founded 1902) 1
  46. Raphael (Italian, 1483-1520) 1
  47. Tahan (French, fl. 19th Century) 1

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