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Sevres Porcelain

March 20, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 285

Sevres porcelain started in 1738 when a group of workers moved from Chantilly to the Chateau de Vicennes outside of Paris to start a porcelain factory. King Louis XV soon became a great supporter of the factory. After first granting a license to the factory to allow it to manufacture porcelain in the Saxon (Meissen) manner in 1745, he took a 25% stake in it in 1751, before eventually taking over the entire factory by 1759. In 1756, Louis XV moved the factory to a larger location in Sevres, a Paris suburb. Moving the factory to Sevres meant it would be closer to his palace in Versailles and Madame de Pompadour's residence, who had also taken a keen interest in the factory. The factory still exists today.

The King made it clear from the outset that he wished the porcelain from Sevres to surpass that of Saxon porcelain from Meissen and Dresden. However, the French found themselves with a problem. Meissen used hard paste porcelain, which required a supply of kaolin, something the French had yet to find. Instead, the factory at Sevres settled for creating soft paste porcelain, which is more easily broken. This has made intact early pieces of Sevres porcelain both rare and extremely valuable amongst collectors. However, the soft paste did have some advantages. As it was fired at a lower temperature it was able to use a larger variety of colours and glazes. The soft paste pieces from this period are extremely colourful and vivid in their decorations and this would later be copied at factories across Europe.

As Louis XV demanded that the factory only produce the most brilliant pieces of work, it was often in financial trouble as only the wealthiest could afford the finely detailed pieces produced. To help the factory, Louis XV mandated several laws, such as one that meant only the Sevres factory could produce multicoloured pieces of porcelain in France. He also allowed the factory to add the word "royal" to its name and eventually became its chief salesman, hosting an annual showing of its finest products in Versailles, for nobility. In 1772, after kaolin deposits were found in France, the factory also began making hard paste porcelain. While the factory has found itself in financial difficulty for much of its history, it has an undeniable reputation for quality. The company has marked its wares for much of its existence, although many other manufacturers have copied its various marks. Perhaps the most imitated Sevres mark was the double 'L' introduced in 1751. Collectors in the UK should be especially wary of imitations of the double 'L' mark as it was copied by a number of British manufacturers.

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