Royal Chelsea /Royal Chelsea /


Royal Chelsea /Royal Chelsea /

The foundation of the factory -1745

Liquidation of the factory - 1784

The oldest extant product of English soft porcelain is a jug in the British Museum, dated 1745 and bearing the stamp of the factory in Chelsea (London). Therefore, 1745 is considered the date of the beginning of the activity of this chronologically first porcelain factory in England. At first it was managed by Charles Gouin, then by Nicolas Sprimon. Both specialists were from Belgium. Sprimon, under whom the factory achieved great success, after 1758 bought the factory from Everard Fokener. In 1769 James Cox became the owner for a short time, and a year later the factory was acquired by William Duisbury, the manager of the factory in Derby. There was a merger of two factories, and the consequence of this was the sameness of products. After moving production to Derby, the Chelsea factory was finally closed in 1784.

The products of the first period (1745-1755) were distinguished by a milky-white glaze, but it had quite a lot of flaws. Various plastic ornaments were used for decoration, most often in the form of shells and pearls, as well as floral reliefs. The color palette was initially very modest: shades and gilding served only as accents on a white glaze background. The influence of Meissen was felt. Even oriental motifs were taken not from Chinese or Japanese samples, but from Meissen compositions.

The greatest flourishing of production at the Chelsea factory occurred in the years 1756-1769, when it was personally managed by Sprimon. In addition to tableware, colored figurines representing individuals (sentimental pseudo-folk shepherdesses, nobles, goddesses) or group scenes (dancing peasants, girls on swings) were produced. A service commissioned by King George III for the Duke of Mecklenburg also belongs to this period. It was decorated with the image of exotic birds. In those years, busts of members of the royal family were made in Chelsea, modeled by the sculptor Louis Francois Roubiliac. But more characteristic of Chelsea was the porcelain haberdashery: perfume bottles, snuffboxes, small caskets and bonbonniers. Perfume bottles were especially famous. Despite their diminutive size, they had an interesting shape that was not found anywhere. The vase was filled with small figures, empty inside, in the form of a bouquet of flowers, decoratively laid fruits, a woman's head or children playing. Even the cork was a composition in harmony with the theme of the bottle. These little masterpieces were painted with lively, juicy colors. During the period of Sprimon's administration, new dyes that had not been used until then were introduced in Chelsea, and gilding became richer. The products were similar in style to the Sevres, especially the dark blue enameled bonbonniers and caskets. At that time, two famous fashion designers from the Belgian factory in Tournai collaborated with the factory: Joseph Willem and Nicolas Francois Goron.

In 1770-1784 the factory was influenced by the Derby factory. The main product of this period were table sets, sometimes with rich gilding. Butterflies were a favorite decoration motif. Gradually, the factory in Chelsea lost its identity, and the products of both factories became almost the same.