The Changing Scenario of French Porcelain

By: rhusain
With the permission of the king, many porcelain factories progressed to different levels. They were encouraged to move forward with new ideas and experiments with their designs and styles. Many places like Paris and Eastern France made great progress in the porcelain making.

The use of hard-paste enabled much larger pieces to be made, and lowered the proportion of losses in firing, but the ware lost much of its beauty as a result. In the nineteenth century numbers of large vases and covers were made, many painted with pseudo-eighteenth-century scenes on a turquoise ground and heavily mounted in gilt metal. Services painted with portraits of Royal and noble personages were also popular.

About 1800, following the Revolution, changes in direction and policy caused the sale of great quantities of 'seconds' and stored undecorated pieces that were bought by English and French 'outside decorators'. These genuinely old soft-paste specimens were carefully painted in authentic styles and colors; also, sparsely decorated old Sevres has sometimes had its enameling removed with acid and more valuable embellishment added and glazed. At Coal port and elsewhere in England, and at some Continental factories, clever forgeries were made. Altogether, the collector should bear in mind the words of W. B. Honey: 'It is probable that more than half the porcelain purporting to be Sevres in private hands is partly or wholly false.' The mark, which is often imitated, comprises two script 'L'S facing each other and interlinked. There is often an additional letter between them to denote the year of manufacture.

Paris
Although the French factories mentioned above were situated in or near the city of Paris, there were a number of small ones in addition making hard-paste wares that are known generally as 'Paris Porcelain'. These were all started after about 1770, and some twenty or so different makers came and went between that date and 1830. Straight-sided coffee-cups, with saucers, are frequently found and have neatly painted colored decoration and gilding. Some of the pieces are marked with the name of the factory stenciled in red, but much is unmarked.

Jacob Petit
A further hard-paste factory was at Fontainebleau, just outside Paris, and two brothers, Jacob and Mardochee Petit, bought this in 1830. They made a great quantity of wares of all kinds, brightly painted and heavily gilt, heavily modeled but decorative in appearance. Clock cases and vases are found commonly, and many bear the initials of Jacob Petit, by whose name the porcelain is known, in under glaze blue.

Eastern France
Several factories were started in the east of France, close to the frontier with Germany. None lasted for any considerable time and, on the whole, their productions are not distinguished. At Strasburg both tablewares and figures were made, and although some of the latter are copied from Sevres models others are original.

Porcelain was made at Niderviller from 1765, and all types of wares were made including some good figures in white biscuit. An unusual style of decorating porcelain practiced there achieved some popularity, and consisted of a trompe loeil, This took the form of an engraving of a landscape pinned to a piece of wood with well-defined grain, painted carefully on the china in natural colors. Good biscuit figures were made also at Luneville.

Progress in the porcelain making was not only confined to Paris. But the areas near and around the city of Paris also made some great wares like hard-paste factory at Fontainebleau, just outside Paris, started by Jacob and Mardochee Petit. And there were other factories as well in the eastern part of France. They made porcelain wares of different styles and designs but most of these factories did not last for long.
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