Antique French Porcelain - A Collectors Resource from Antique Central

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French Porcelain

  Antique French  Porcelain

Antique  Porcelain

St. Cloud French Porcelain

Chantilly French Porcelain

French porcelain Imperial Sevres vase by Samson of Paris, c late 19th century

18th century Serves French Porcelain powder box, gilded and painted

Many antique collectors delight in antique French porcelain wares for the French porcelain designs and techniques are uniquely European and quite different from the many other porcelain pieces of the time that tend to mimic oriental imports. Although some of France's early porcelain pieces reflected the oriental influence by use of the Chinese artistic style, the French designs soon began to reflect the architecture, metalwork, and baroque style known to France.

The French developed their own creamy white, very delicate and smooth soft paste porcelain. It was in Rouen, France in the late 1670's, when a patent was issued to Louis Proterat, that French porcelain was first produced. He introduced lambrequins in his decoration, an ornamentation technique with jagged or scalloped outlines like drapery, scrollwork or lace. These porcelain pieces were extremely popular and were copied at other porcelain factories throughout France. However, collectors of antique French porcelain will have difficult time acquiring many of these early pieces with formal blue decoration because so few were made before Proterat's death in 1696. 

Rouen's early porcelain pieces greatly influenced the porcelain production that began in St. Cloud in 1695. The antique French porcelain pieces from St. Cloud included blanc de chine pieces as well as trembleuse blue and white beakers, cups and saucers, and cutlery handles. Some of these early wares continued to show Chinese figures.

In 1725, production of French porcelain began in Chantilly. In the Chantilly factories the antique porcelain designs were still strongly influenced by the Japanese Kakiemon with direct copies being made of private collections, and Chinese style, chinoisere patterns found on many of the early Chantilly French porcelain wares. The glazes on the early porcelain wares from this factory are more opaque in appearance, due to the addition of tin oxide in the glaze.

Another porcelain factory began in Paris, then moved to Mennecy, and later moved to Bourg-la-reine. The porcelain wares from all three of these factories bear the initials "DV" for the owner Duc de Villeroy. These creamy, soft and delicate porcelain wares with French rococo decoration are generally referred to by antique collectors as Mennecy porcelain. 

One of the most successful French porcelain factories was that of Vincenes, largely due to the intense scrutiny given to the quality of its wares, and the strong financial backing by the King of France. Of course, it didn't hurt either that production by all other French porcelain factories was severely restricted due to a Royal edict reserving the use of gold and certain other colors in decoration to be used solely by the Vincenes factory. 

The Vincenes porcelain factories were moved to Serves in 1756, and these highest of quality Serves porcelain wares continue to be some of the most sought after today. The shapes and patterns used at Serves were completely original and reflected the French rococo, greatly influencing all other European porcelain. The antique French porcelain from Serves specialized in solid, dark ground colors with rich scenes and flowers, greatly tooled with gilding.

From 1760, soft paste porcelain, or what the French referred to as pate tendre, continued to be made through the end of the eighteenth century, as well as beautiful, white French hard paste, or pate dure, that reigned in and around Paris and Limoges. By 1766, control on production by the King had lessened and many other antique French porcelain factories emerged, creating fierce competition with the Serves factories. While some rivaled the quality of Serves, others sought to expand their markets by producing cheaper wares. The work of many Chinese painters in France, particularly Paris, is seen on the  porcelain wares of this era, which are rich in opulence with brilliant and heavily gilded borders.

As France's porcelain production grew and kaolin was discovered in the late eighteenth century, Limoge became the center of the French porcelain industry. French fashion and furniture design influenced many other European countries as well as the United States and Canada, and the Empire style became a universal theme across continents, making the multitude of porcelain wares of this time difficult to distinguish in origin and mostly unmarked. The great number of unmarked antique French porcelain pieces has discouraged many antique collectors. Many of the later pieces, especially those of the Samson factory, copy the early Serves styles and patterns and often bear fake makers marks. As a result, although the quality continues to be of the highest regard, and many Samson pieces are quite expensive, most antique collectors are deterred from Samson porcelain. 

You'll find more detail and information on antique porcelain and the wares produced at each of the individual French porcelain factories by clicking on one of the links above. As always, if you are unable to find the information you are looking for on this site, please let us know -- we are as excited to learn about antiques as you are, and will be happy to research it.






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