January 18, 2010
Exhibition: Objects of Luxury
The Victoria & Albert Museum is now showing the exhibition Objects of Luxury: French porcelain of the eighteenth century, through June (the website says May and June... I will go with June!). The show features (surprise!) French porcelain pieces, created throughout the 18th century.
The French pieces rivaled all others created in Europe in beauty and color. Due to the production process, more colors could be used on French porcelain than other types;the soft white of the material was unique, if not very translucent. The white has been described as, "a fine, solid white grain like squeezed snow." How lovely!
The end of the 17th century saw an increase in the manufacturing of porcelain on both the continent and in England. French porcelain, as it would become known, was very difficult to make and was created with a soft paste rather than hard paste. It was also considered artificial porcelain, but the costly pieces were kept in demand for most of the century. Likewise, a different type of porcelain was developed in Germany, (German porcelain) and later on the English would profit on their bone-porcelain.
French porcelain was difficult to make, thus it became very pricey. So costly was the entire production of the porcelain that the demand in many countries diminished rather quickly. English manufactures took to adding bone-ash to the paste, and soon there were no English manufactures creating the soft-paste French Porcelain.
Why did the popularity of this expensive form of porcelain remain so strong for so many decades in France? The glittering court, of course. The court of Louis XV spent plenty to acquire the delicate pieces, and their patronage kept manufacturers in good business. Eventually the modest porcelain factories gave way to the larger elite manufacturers such as Sèvres, which received incredible patronage from Louis XV and Madame de Pompadour.
Sèvres had the best of the best working for it, as it was under the royal patronage. The result of the royal patronage were pieces of amazing quality, detail, style and beauty. The exhibition Objects of Luxury takes these creations and puts them together to present the impressive products of French porcelain manufacturers. The pieces, fit for the most dazzling courts, will give you an idea of the time, quality and thought behind each work. The show also features the different factories that were in production at the time such as Saint-Cloud, Vincennes and Chantilly.
It is easy to see why this French Porcelain was so in demand. If you visit the exhibition you will notice the wide range of colors the pieces are decorated in. See if you can pick out any pieces colored with the popular: rose-Pompadour.
If you will not be able to make it to the exhibition, be sure to pick up the exhibition book.
French Porcelain of the 18th Century in the Victoria & Albert Museum which is released February 1, 2010 on Amazon.
If you are a UK customer you can get it now from Amazon.uk
Or from the Victoria & Albert Museum shop