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Pardon the pictures. I used bad lighting for these group. But even so I'm sure you can see how beautiful these Lladros are. Very nice piece of porcelain. Porcelain is a hard white translucent ceramic which has been baked to the ultimate degree of compactness. When sounded acoustically it generates an even ring. Porcelain was first recognized in China at the time of the Tang dynasty (618-907) and is formed from the fusion of Kaolin, a brilliant white unmeltable aluminum hydrosilicate, and soft feldspar from petuntse (white quartz), at a temperature of between 1300-1400 degrees Celsius. Porcelain exists in two forms known as hard paste and soft paste porcelain respectively. The European hard paste variety was discovered by the alchemist Johann Bottger and closely resembles Chinese porcelain. As a consequence of Bottger's discovery, Augustus II of Poland founded the Meissen factory in 1710.

Soft paste porcelain first rose to prominence in Florence between 1575 and 1597 when the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Francesco de Medici, created a small but highly prolific production known as " Medici Porcelain". The French were also champions of this variety where there are records of productions in St. Cloud in 1670, Rouen in 1673, and Sèvres from 1756 to 1768. The latter, soft paste Sèvres porcelain, was made from a mixture of vitreous limestone and white clay combined with other substances producing a whitish opaque substance which was subsequently baked at up to 1100 degrees Celsius.

The manufacture of soft paste porcelain is generally longer and more complicated than the hard paste variety as there are a greater number of secondary substances involved in its composition. Soft paste porcelain is also more difficult to work as it is more delicate and has a lower index of cohesion than the hard paste variety. In addition, items finished in the soft paste porcelain are more fragile, their glazing being more prone to cracking, than hard paste porcelain.

However, objects produced in soft paste porcelain are generally much warmer and richer in appearance, there being a much broader range of colors with which they can be decorated.

The production of a typical item in porcelain involves the initial modeling of the object in the porcelain clay paste. It is then dried at a uniform temperature in a furnace. Once dry the item is smoothed off or finished prior to coating with a glaze via immersion in a special bath. For soft paste porcelain the glaze solution is either a lead silicate, sulfate, or oxide, whereas a feldspar base solution is used for hard paste porcelain. The object is then fired in a furnace to bind the glaze to the porcelain, soft paste porcelain is glazed at about 1100 degrees Celsius whereas hard paste porcelain is glazed at between 1300 and 1400 degrees Celsius.

The glaze is white if mixed with tin, or it can be uniformly colored. The color range, however, is relatively limited due to the high temperatures involved in the glazing. Further coloring of the porcelain involves the successive application of different mineral oxides. Cobalt oxide is used for blue, iron oxide for green or brown and copper oxide for red or violet decoration. In the application of each color the porcelain is placed in a refractory cabinet at the temperature associated with the melting point of the respective oxide.The melting points of all oxides are lower than the temperature of the initial glazing and the sequence of application of each color is in the descending order of the melting points of each of the respective oxides. The final firing is associated with the colors and decorations which have the lowest melting point.

Another technique which was used in Germany and Holland in the second quarter of the 19th century involves the application of cold laquers. This was especially suitable for large objects, where it was feared that they could not withstand a third firing without being damaged. This process of a third firing was eventually eliminated for this reason.

A special production known as "Bisquit" was very fashionable in the second half of the 18th century and also in the 19th and 20th centuries. It involves compositions of figures or groups which are not glazed and have a soft white or opaque appearance. This technique originated in Sèvres and later spread throughout Europe.

The Origin and History of Porcelain in Europe

Porcelain was first recognized in China at the time of the Tang dynasty, (618-907), and for this reason also has the synonym "china". It was Marco Polo who brought back the first example, a small white porcelain vase, on his return to Italy in 1295. This now resides in the San Marco Treasury. The origin of the word "porcelain" is said to stem from its resemblance to little white sea-shells, reminiscent in shape and color of little pigs or "porcella", which were used as currency in the Far East.

Effectively, from the beginning of the 15th century onwards porcelain was considered as a valuable and luxurious material by the nobility and wealthy of the day and was bought from the merchants of Genoa, Pisa, Venice and Portugal. This prestige was also due to the mystery associated with its fabrication, remaining secret up until the 15th century.

The first major breakthrough in porcelain production took place in Florence under Francesco de Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, from 1575 to 1597, using a furnace designed by Bountalenti and Fontana. A soft paste porcelain was produced, the production becoming known as "Medici Porcelain". However, a production of a quality on a par with the Chinese variety was not developed until 1708 when the physicist and chemist Von Tschirnhauser and the alchemist Johann Bottger succeeded in developing a hard paste porcelain. As a consequence of this discovery Augustus II, King of Poland, founded the first European hard paste porcelain factory at Meissen in 1710.

For almost ten years the formula for this porcelain remained a jealously guarded secret within the confines of the walls of the Abbrechtsburg Castle. Thereafter productions sprang up in Vienna, Venice and France. At that time the discovery and zeal for porcelain ran parallel with the appetites and flagrant and audacious moods in society of the 18th and 19th centuries. The desire for the exotic : tea, coffee and chocolate, in turn nurtured the need for new suitable receptacles which were realized in this new exotic material, porcelain.

From 1725 to 1740 the Meissen production included handpainted tables and the first important figurines were issued towards 1735. The most accomplished in terms of artistic expression were those of Kandler who was active from 1731 to 1765. Groups and figures of the first half of the 18th century found their inspiration in paintings by Watteau, Lancret and Chardin . The passion for vases initially originated in emulations of the Japanese and Chinese varieties which were then superseded by Rococo art.

The figurines produced in the 19th century, however, represented an entirely new art form. They took their themes and subjects from contemporary painting, gallant subjects and characters from the theatre of the Commedia dell'Arte. The collection of porcelain, which was originally the preserve of the Court, became emulated by the nobility and affluent and porcelain production became further stimulated by the needs and desires of the higher echelons of society.

The development of porcelain production owes much to various persona, not least Augustus II of Poland, but also to Madame de Pompadour in France, a favorite of King Louis XV, who influenced the decoration of French Porcelain with her own style. It was due to her particular intervention that the old French porcelain factory at the Chateau at Vicennes was transferred to Sèvres.

Both the Sèvres and Meissen factories share the honor of having the oldest continuous working life. A further important royal patron of porcelain was Charles of Bourbon, King of Naples, who became Charles III King of Spain in 1759. His wife was Queen Maria Amalia, daughter of Augustus III of Poland and granddaughter of Augustus II of Poland (Augustus the Strong), founder of Meissen. On Charles' ascent to the Spanish throne the original porcelain factory, which had been built in the Royal Palace of Capodimonte, was demolished, and all artists and materials were transferred to Spain where a new porcelain production was created at the Castello of Buen Ritiro near Madrid.

Thereafter,Charles' son Ferdinand IV continued his father's tradition in Naples, with a new factory which started production in 1771 at Portici.

Other important Italian factories include the third oldest European factory founded in Venice in 1720 by Giovanni Vezzi but which closed after a relatively brief life in 1727 due to financial problems. Also the hard paste porcelain factory at Vinovo near Turin which was patronized by the Savoy Royal Family as well as an important production at Doccia near Florence, founded by the Marquis Carlo Ginori in 1735, and which is still active to the present day.

This is all for now and hopefully I can update this later.

Please Note: We are in no way affiliated with the Lladro corporation or its factory complex in Tavernes Blanques, close to the city of Valencia. We are working strictly as independents. All pictures on this website are from our very own collections.

Last Updated: 2SEP02