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Continental Porcelain in Continental Style

Aug 17, 2007
There are some differences between the English and the Continental porcelain. They are different in their designs, styles and their paintings, printings and impressions. We will be looking at some these differences below.

CONTINENTAL porcelain differs essentially from English in that it was in nearly every instance, either at first or eventually, hard-paste. Even those factories that began with pseudo-glass soft-paste turned in the end to true hard porcelain.

Marks are much more frequent than on English pieces, but have to be treated with suspicion as they stayed in use over long periods and were copied freely. The supremacy of Dresden induced many makers, on the Continent as well as in England, to mark their wares with the crossed swords or with the AR monogram.

Just as in England there were 'outside decorators', in Germany and Austria there were 'Hausmalers' (literally, home painters), who bought unpainted ware and decorated it themselves in their own individual styles. Many of these men were excellent artists and did work of high quality, but they were not popular with the factories. At Dresden, all pieces sold in the white after about 1760 had one or more short lines cut through the crossed swords to indicate that they were imperfect. While many of the imperfections were only slight, they were sufficient to make the ware unfit for decorating by the factory painters.

It should be remembered that many Continental factories are still in production and re-use eighteenth-century moulds of their own and other makers' wares. Often they mark them appropriately, and it is far from easy for the novice to distinguish between old and new. Careful examination of genuine pieces and a comparison of them with modern copies are the only ways to recognize and learn the difference. It may comfort the puzzled beginner to know that fifty years ago a director of the Sevres factory confessed he was completely unable to distinguish old from new when some doubtful pieces from the Victoria and Albert Museum were submitted for his opinion.

Continental Porcelain Factories
Germany
Dresden (Saxony), East Germany
In the year 1707, Johann Bottger, an alchemist, was investigating the possibility of making gold, when his services were enlisted to discover what seemed at the time an equally insoluble secret; how to make porcelain to rival the Oriental ware then being imported into Europe in quantity. As a result of his successful experiments in making a hard red ware, he was able to make a white one, and on 23rd January 1710 the Royal Saxon Manufactory was established. It was in an old fortress at Meissen, near Dresden in Saxony, and there it remained for nearly 150 years. The porcelain produced since 1710 is called Meissen in Germany and the United States, Dresden in England, and Saxe in France, and was the first to be made in Europe in the Oriental manner from a fused mixture of minerals.

From the start, both the red and the white wares were made in quantity, but examples of them are very rare today. The former were often decorated on the lapidary's wheel, the polished parts appearing as if glazed. A few figures were made, but the output was principally cups and bowls, and many of these in white porcelain had colored decoration.

Bottger died in 1719, and from then onwards there were numerous changes in both personnel and output, culminating in the appointment of Johann Kandler as modeler in 1731. It was Kandler's creation of dozens of brilliant figures and groups that spread the fame of Meissen throughout Europe, and inspired modelers of every nation.

Some of the differences between the English and the continental porcelains distinguish one from the other. Inspite of the differences between the English and the continental styles and designs they compliments each other and they have some similarities as well in their shapes and sizes with minor changes.
About the Author
Mitch Johnson is a regular writer for http://www.kids-games-n-crafts.com/ , http://www.urcraftsguide.info/ , http://www.bathroomaccessoriesmadeeasy.info/
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