The Imperial Porcelain Factory is one of the oldest in Europe, the first and one of the largest enterprises in Russia for the production of artistic porcelain products. Located in St. Petersburg, founded in 1744.
Originally it was called the "Nevsky Porceline Manufactory", since 1765 - the Imperial Porcelain Factory, since 1917 - the State Porcelain Factory (GFZ - the abbreviation of the brand). Since 1924 - Leningrad Porcelain Factory. In 1925, in connection with the 200th anniversary of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the plant was named after M. V. Lomonosov; the company received an official name - the Leningrad Porcelain Factory named after M. V. Lomonosov, along with which the short form was used - Lomonosov Porcelain Factory (LFZ - the abbreviation of the brand was interpreted as the Leningrad Porcelain Factory) - until 2005.
Imperial Porcelain Factory. The Times of Nicholas I.
In 1825, after the death of Alexander I, Nicholas I, his brother, ascended to the throne. With the arrival of the new emperor, an era of great changes in the political, economic and social spheres of the country's life began. The main principles of the reign of Nicholas I are considered to be order, strict, unconditional legality, the absence of omniscience and contradictions, the interconnectedness of one with another, the subordination of all to one specific goal, the presence of a specific purpose for everyone.
The changes could not but affect one of the largest enterprises of that time - the Imperial Porcelain Factory. In 1826, instead of the untimely deceased Count Dmitry Alexandrovich Guryev, Prince Pyotr Mikhailovich Volkonsky was appointed to the post of Chief Chief of the Cabinet of His Imperial Majesty and Minister of the Ministry of the Imperial Court, under whose jurisdiction the Imperial Porcelain Factory also falls.
Unlike his predecessors, Guryev and Yusupov, Volkonsky is removed from the direct conduct of business and creates an intermediate instance for the management of four productions: Imperial porcelain, Glass, Vyborg mirror factories and Trellis manufactory. This department was headed by one person appointed by the Cabinet of His Imperial Majesty. Management was carried out on the basis of instructions issued by the same Cabinet. On the ground, the production was led by directors, who were approved by the Minister of the imperial court. New charters for enterprises were also developed and the staff was replaced. The approach to financing the plant has also changed. Now an advance was issued from the Cabinet of His Imperial Majesty on account of manufactured products. This measure significantly affected the production time, since now there was no need to conduct a long correspondence with the Ministry of Finance justifying the need to receive funds.
But, as is usually the case in Russia, the reforms were carried out, and the administration system remained the same. There were no drastic changes in production during the period of Volkonsky's management. The situation of the Imperial Porcelain Factory remained difficult, despite all the efforts of the management to bring the company out of the crisis.
In 1844, the celebration of the centenary of the founding of the Imperial Porcelain Factory took place. On this occasion, the existing structure of the factory at that time was thoroughly described. The manufactory consisted of two main divisions: "artificial" and "economic". The first included laboratory, pottery, painting departments, as well as departments of the composition of the masses, firing of things and white products. The economic division included: an office with commissars, an infirmary, a school and a police unit. Each of these departments was further subdivided into a mass of small departments responsible for various aspects of the factory's work. Having studied archival documents, we can say that during the reign of Nicholas I, the Imperial Porcelain Factory was a large enterprise with an extensive management scheme, a large staff of employees and a substantial amount of equipment (molding machines, furnaces, etc.). This order of things was maintained throughout the reign of Nicholas I.
Also, one of the important aspects that significantly influenced the existence of the plant at that time was a significant reduction in the private sale of products, which was actively developing under the former Emperor. But, despite the fact that the shops of the IFZ were closed everywhere and, moreover, participation in fairs that brought a good profit stopped, the output of products at the factory not only did not decrease, but on the contrary, increased due to the increased needs of the Imperial Court and various court institutions. The bulk of orders were for the production of ordinary dining sets for everyday use, but orders for exclusive works also accounted for a considerable share.
The technical component of production has also undergone changes. So the instruction given by Catherine II to use only domestic clay for production was violated for the first time, and French (Limoges) clay was allowed to be used. This decision was due to many years of futile attempts to achieve properties identical to European samples from the porcelain mass. With the beginning of the use of Limoges clay, one can note the almost complete similarity of domestic porcelain with English and French in whiteness, fineness and strength. Thanks to the ongoing experiments, the firing was significantly improved. The gilding process has undergone significant changes, which has reduced material consumption by 15%. In addition to gilding, platinum was also used in the design of products.
By the centenary of production, a museum was opened in which the best products of the factory were exhibited.
Also, the Imperial Porcelain Factory for the first time began to participate in foreign exhibitions. It is known that in 1851 the products of the manufactory were presented at the London International Exhibition. The decoration of the products of this period was rich and varied. The painting reflected the styles of different eras, but the emphasis was still on subjects from everyday life. The masters of the factory actively turned to the subjects of antiquity, Eastern and Russian antiquity, sought inspiration in Italian and French engravings. In addition, the changing social structure of society opened up a new consumer class, which was alien to grandiose and pompous products. The need for simpler and more concise products has increased, which is why features of realism as a trend in art appear in the design of the products of the Imperial Porcelain Factory. Against the background of increased love for various literary characters, the plant does not miss the moment and produces figurines in the form of beloved heroes of that era, such as heroes of the works of Walter Scott, Alexandre Dumas, etc .
Also, the Imperial Porcelain Factory significantly expands the range. Now in the workshops, if desired, you can find almost everything: from biscuit medallions to porcelain furniture. However, the bulk of the products are made up of the same dining and tea sets and vases.
It will be useful for collectors to know that the vases of the Nicholas period were divided into three main forms:
- vases in the Meissen Rococo style with an abundance of sculptural ornaments and floral ornaments without plot paintings;
- crater-shaped, cup-shaped vases with a stem, the shape of which resembles a cylinder, sometimes slightly concave, with a short neck and low-branching handles. This form, in accordance with the terminology of that time, is called "medicine";
- elongated vases with shoulder arms, long neck and narrow bell, that is, vases resembling antique urns and vases.
Usually these vases were decorated with picturesque drawings on both sides, sculptural ornaments on the sides and, often framed with a bronze frame.
Summarizing the events of that time, it can be summed up that, despite certain difficulties in the development and operation of the Imperial Porcelain Factory, there is a genuine interest and need for its products. Undoubtedly, during the reign of Nicholas I, the IFZ significantly expanded its product range, the masters began to use a more diverse design of products in accordance with the requirements of fashion and European patterns.