Sèvres Factory (Biographical details)

Sèvres Factory (manufacturer/factory; French; 1756)

Also known as

Sèvres Factory; Manufacture Nationale de Sèvres

Biography

For a brief history of 18thC Sevrès see Dawson 1994 pp. 90-91; for Sevrès biscuit porcelain figures, groups, plaques and medallions see pp. 172-174; and for 19thC and 20thC Sevrès see pp. 211-213.
The Sevrès porcelain factory was the continuation of the factory at Vincennes in new buildings at Sevrès - close to Bellevue, a property belonging to Louis XV's mistress, Madame de Pompadour - from the summer of 1756. A system of date-letters inscribed within the royal monogram of interlaced LL was instituted to indicate the year of decoration of each piece. The King purchased the entire concern in October 1759 and it grew in size and complexity and was run on very formal, bureacratic lines. Initially production was of soft-paste porcelain but hard paste kaolinitic porcelain was also manufactured from the 1770s. Serious competition from smaller factories which spang up in Paris led to falling revenues but many spectacular services, vases and biscuit sculptures were produced in the 1770s and 1780s and foreign customers included kings, princes, dukes and cardinals. The revolutionary period brought a disastrous drop in sales but nevertheless the factory managed to survive. Napoleon Bonaparte saw it could continue to supply diplomatic gifts and in 1800 his brother brought in Alexandre Brongniart an engineer who quickly re-organised the factory, dismissing half the 220 staff and abandoning soft-paste porcelain entirely in favour of his own hard-paste composition. In 1876 the factory moved to its present site beyond the pont de Sevrès on the edge of the Parc de Saint-Cloud. Under the direction of Emile Baumgart (manager from 1891 to 1909) and Alexandre Sandier (art director from 1897 to 1916), production at Sèvres in the late nineteenth century changed radically. Sandier designed new shapes of simple outline and construction and several new decorative effects were introduced. These were greatly aided by the introduction in 1884 of pâte dure nouvelle or porcelaine nouvelle, which was fired at a lower temperature and was thus suitable for a much wider range of decorative effects.

Bibliography

G. Lechevallier-Chevignard, 'La Manufacture de Porcelaine de Sèvres', Paris 1908
E. Baumgart, 'La Manufacture Nationale de Sèvres a l'Exposition Universelle de 1900', Paris 1900-1
Sèvres 1975, Musée National de Céramique, 'Porcelaines de Sèvres au XIX siècle', exhibition catalogue
M. Brunet and T. Préaud, 'Sèvres des origines a nos jours', Fribourg 1982
'Sèvres de 1850 a nos jours', exhibition catalogue, Le Louvre des Antiquaires, Paris 1983
Aileen Dawson 'French Porcelain - A Catalogue of the British Museum Collection' [London, 1994] pp. 90-91.