Factory foundation -1738
The word "Sevre" is the same symbol of French porcelain as "Meissen" is of classical German. The factory in Sevres played a big role in the history of all European porcelain, and there were periods when none of the factories was free from its influence.
In 1738, in an abandoned royal castle in Vincennes near Paris, a group of former workers from Chantilly attempted production at their own expense. For a long time their experiments did not give the desired results, and only in 1745 Francois Gravan managed to create the necessary composition of the mass. It was soft fritted porcelain with a spectacular milky white color. Then, at the instigation of Madame Pompadour, King Louis XV became interested in the factory. A joint-stock company with a large share of the royal capital was created. It had the exclusive privilege of producing porcelain like Meissen. In 1753 the factory received the official name of the royal (Manufacture Poyale de Porcelaine) and the right to use a brand consisting of two crossed letters "L" - the initials of the king. In addition to the stamp on the products from 1753, the release dates were also put, but not numbers, but the next letters of the alphabet. In 1753, the preparatory period ended, and the factory began to work productively. At that time, Sevre's products were distinguished by an excellent artistic level and the shape of the products, as well as in decoration - in the style of the then fashionable rococo. Vases, small vases, frames for watches were designed with great taste and were not overloaded with too much jewelry. Such high quality of products was explained by cooperation with excellent specialists. Chemist Jean Ello invented a number of dyes applied to products in the form of a background. Of the different colors, the most famous were blue-sapphire, called "royal azure" (bleu du gou), and delicate pale pink - "pink Pompadour". The decoration of the products was supervised by: the gilder Duplessis and the enamel artists Mathieu and Bachelier. The Vincennes factory also produced porcelain flowers, posa
placed on branches of gilded bronze. There is a famous bouquet that Augustus III received from his daughter Maria, the wife of the heir to the French throne (Dauphin). It consisted of four hundred and eighty flowers and was placed in a large vase. What was completely new was that the factory broke with the traditional painting and glazing of porcelain figurines, then used throughout Europe. The Vincennes factory began to produce figures made of unglazed sponge cake, which made them look like marble figurines.
In 1756, the factory was moved from Vincennes to more spacious premises in Sevres. In 1759, the king bought all the shares and became the sole owner. The king gave the factory a subsidy of eight thousand francs a month. Sevres became the main supplier of porcelain for the Versailles court, as well as for numerous royal favorites. New shades of colors were introduced into the decoration: turquoise (sky blue), light yellow and green (apple greens). Due to the disgrace of the Marquise de Pompadour and the replacement of her new favorite Madame Di Barry, the previously favorite color "pink Pompadour" was rarely used. Guests of the royal court were generously presented with rich sets, vases and figurines. After the factory in Meissen was destroyed by the army of Frederick II, the Sevres manufactory took the first place in Europe.
Since 1768, hard porcelain has been produced in Sevres in connection with the discovery of kaolin deposits in France. However, the production of fritted porcelain continued, which was very spectacular, although it had greater fragility. Around 1780, the enameller Cotto introduced a new decorating technique based on putting engraved patterns of gold plaques in some places, which were then covered with colored enamels. Cotto's products were very expensive, and this type of decoration was used only for the production of the most representative items. An ornament known as "partridge's eyes" (yeux de perdrix) was introduced into the painting, which was previously used to border medallions. It consisted of alternating light and dark colors or small patterns. The products decorated with genre scenes had a high artistic level. The motifs of the miniatures were most often love pastoral scenes, very characteristic of the era of Louis XV and XVI. They also liked to depict eroticism in figure compositions, where women were shown with inimitable taste and harmony. The motifs for the reliefs were often taken from antique samples, but they were also designed by prominent modern artists, such as Francois Boucher.
The culminating period of the activity of the Sevres Manufactory lasted until the first years after the French Revolution. At first, there was a crisis for several years, but it passed during the period of the imperatorship, when the factory was returned a government grant. For the magnificent court of Napoleon, an appropriate frame was required, including in the form of chic porcelain products. Large decorative vases and other elegant objects were often decorated with gilded bronze. The decor was sometimes made too rich - porcelain was overloaded with gold and lost its natural features. What was new at that time was the introduction of Egyptian motifs after Napoleon's campaigns in Egypt. The largest work in this style was a service made in 1808 depicting the events of the Egyptian campaign. In 1805-1815, when the factory was run by Director Bronnard, the products were dedicated to the praise of Emperor Napoleon I. They were as pompous as the whole atmosphere of the imperial court, but they were monumental and perfectly reflected their era.
The fall of Napoleon in 1815 did not greatly affect the position of the factory. After the retreat of the Allied troops, who occupied the factory for a while, production resumed. In the decoration, only the figure of the emperor and his monograms, which until then had been the main decoration of the products, disappeared. But the technical level remained high, and the decor, although not always original, but impeccable. Changes in style are clearly visible on Sevre's products: the lowering of the value of artistry in the time of Louis Philippe, when the petty-bourgeois Biedermeyer came into fashion, exaggerated decorativeness is not always in good taste during the Second Empire, separation in the era of the Third Republic. But despite the unequal significance of the achievements, which depended on the fashionable tastes of the era, the artistic level of the factory in Sevres is still highly appreciated.
It is impossible to fully characterize all of Sevre's activities in a short essay. Only the enumeration of the stamps of the artists who worked at this factory occupies almost 500 positions. In conclusion, I would like to remind you that there are often Sevra products that do not differ in proper quality. The fact is that due to financial difficulties, director Alexander Bronnyar sold stocks of white, unpainted products in 1801. These dishes were purchased by merchants who privately commissioned her to paint, and in subsequent years, when the factory experienced financial difficulties and its prestige grew again, they began to sell dishes with a large profit. These products were marked with a factory brand, but collectors do not consider them to be full-fledged.
The same situation arose half a century later. In Sevres, around 1850, defective products were sold at a much lower price. These were still unwritten products, but some already had a factory brand on them. These semi-finished products were bought by artisans-homeworkers and painted them, skillfully placing decorations in such a way that the paint covered the defects of porcelain. Such items were then given out as full-fledged goods of the Sevres factory. The level of such products, of course, was different and depended on the talent of the decorator. This explains the wide range of their artistic significance - from an outright kitsch to a very good class of decor. Sometimes such a painting was secretly done by famous artists who, being in a difficult situation at the beginning of their creative activity, obtained such a "hack" means for living. This was done anonymously, and now it is impossible to establish the authorship of some valuable products. These "additions" cannot be considered authentic works of the factory, but they cannot be completely disqualified because of the artistic merits of some copies. After such an unpleasant experience, porcelain factories tried not to release unwritten or rejected products to the market.
No factory has reflected historical changes in its labeling to such an extent as Sevres. Initially, the products were branded with the monogram of King Louis XV (two crossed letters "L") with added signs. In the middle of the monogram were painted letters denoting the year of release, or the brands of artists and fashion designers. In the first period, the "LL" monogram was always blue.
Since 1804, stamps have been printed, their forms have changed depending on political fluctuations up to the present day.
* In memory of the comet of 1769, some fashion designers used drawings of the comet instead of the letter R. ** in 1794-1800, no additional signs concerning chronology were used.
*** *** The dates from 18 to 1834 are written with omission of the digits of thousandths and hundredths, for example, instead of 1819, only 19.
The surnames of artists, decorators and gilders, whose signs were put together with the factory brands of Sevre, they were most often drawn in the tone of the general decor or in the tone of the factory brand.