After the discovery of a substance similar in composition to kaolin in Saxony in 1705, in 1767 a deposit of kaolin was discovered in the distressed village of Saint-Irie-la-Perche, near Limoges (on the border with the Dordogne). According to legend, the surgeon Jean-Baptiste Darnay told a local pharmacist that his wife uses a white primer as a washing powder when washing clothes. It was thanks to this deposit that Limoges was called upon to become the capital of porcelain in France.
Deposits of the so-called Chinese stone, in fact, a kaolinized variety of feldspar, were discovered near the kaolin deposit.
In 1769, the 59-year-old King of France Louis XV bought the kaolin deposit, making the production of porcelain a royal privilege. It was from this year that the right to manufacture porcelain and the corresponding duties were introduced in France. The first porcelain manufactory in Limousin was founded in 1771 by the brothers Grellet and Massié-Fournaire (Fr. frères Grellet et Massié-Fournérat). After the death of Louis XV in 1774, the manufactory came under the patronage of King Charles X. This manufactory existed in this status until 1784, when it was granted the status of a Royal Manufactory. In 1794, it was annexed to the Sevres Manufactory.
Porcelain production in France suffered significantly during the French Revolution.
Subsequently, the revival of the porcelain business occurred thanks to the French industrialist Francois Alluaud the elder (fr. François Alluaud), who became a pioneer of the industrial production of Limousin porcelain in the first half of the XIX century. Having headed the factory in 1800, he was engaged in improving production technology and introducing innovations. In addition, the Alluo factory completely controlled the production of kaolin, the deposits of which were entirely on its lands. So, already in 1807, there were 5 manufactories in Limoges, which operated 7 furnaces and employed about 200 workers who produced porcelain products worth 230,000 francs .
In 1827, there were already sixteen porcelain factories in Limoges. The Restoration period (1814-1830) is characterized by the opening of a large number of factories in the communes of the Limousin plain (Coussac-Bonneval, Maniac-Bourg, Solignac, Saint-Brice-sur-Vienne, Saint-Leonard-de-Noble, Bourganef and others)
During this era, the porcelain industry provided income for most of the population of Limousin. Many people were engaged in the fusion of wood intended for firing furnaces at porcelain factories, its cutting, storage and subsequent delivery to factories. Many different professions were involved in the technological cycle of porcelain production.
Since 1836, when the duty on the import of timber to cities, including Limoges, was abolished, factories that had previously been built in the suburbs began to be transferred en masse to cities. Only in the 1830s 8 new porcelain factories were opened in Limoges. And by the middle of the XIX century, thanks to the activities of the American Haviland, there were already over 30 factories.
It was Haviland who managed to captivate Paris with the quality and sophistication of Limousin porcelain products. He also significantly developed the direction of decorating porcelain products right on the spot, in Limousin, in accordance with the tastes of the American clientele. It was in 1853 that the first factory was opened, combining workshops for the manufacture of porcelain and a workshop for the decoration of porcelain products, where 400 workers worked together. In 1848, there were 19 manufacturing factories and 17 porcelain painting workshops in Limoges. The total turnover of the industry has reached 4 million francs.
Porcelain production - since 1771
In 1771, the Grellet brothers, together with Massieu, the owner of a faience factory that existed in Limoges, and the chemist Fournier, founded a hard porcelain factory under the patronage of the Duke of Artois. In 1784, the factory became the property of the king. It produced only white porcelain, which was then painted in Sevres. The factory closed in 1796. During the XIX-XX centuries, there were forty-three porcelain factories in Limoges. The Limoges ceramic production center is one of the largest in France, and the products created there are valued for their high quality.