Meissen Porcelain Manufactory

  • active 1710 - present
  • Artist, Maker, Manufacturer
  • German

As early as the 1670s, experiments had begun in Germany to discover the vital ingredients of the true hard-paste porcelain produced in China and Japan. The Meissen manufactory, established as the Saxon royal porcelain manufactory at Meissen near Dresden in 1710 under the patronage of Augustus II, Elector of Saxony and king of Poland, was the first factory to duplicate the recipe. It remained the dominant porcelain manufactory in Europe until about 1750, when its fame was eclipsed by the royal French porcelain manufactory at Vincennes (later Sèvres).

The alchemist Johann Friedrich Böttger was the factory's first director in a period of experimentation and technical development. He invented first an extremely hard, red stoneware, which could be polished, engraved, or cut in facets. Böttger's second discovery was the recipe for a white porcelain. The form and decoration of the factory's wares were initially inspired by Chinese and Japanese porcelain in the Elector's collection. From Meissen, the formula for the production of true hard-paste porcelain spread throughout Europe.

The appointment of Johann Gregor Höroldt as chief painter in 1720 at the Meissen Manufactory brought an increased range of enamel colors to the decoration of painted porcelain. Meissen painters began faithfully to copy East Asian decoration and adapt it to European taste. Höroldt was particularly known for his imaginative scenes of Chinese and Japanese life.