From the mid-1600s onwards, preposterous theories spread through Europe about the recipe for true porcelain; some theorized that the coveted material from the Far East was made by burying a variety of materials including lobster shells and plaster in the ground for eighty years. Continuous experiments at a manufactory in Saint-Cloud, a small town west of Paris, produced a distinctive paste made of strange ingredients. When fired and covered with a glassy glaze, the yellowish or creamy-colored result was known as soft-paste porcelain.
The first major porcelain factory in France, Saint-Cloud began production of soft-paste porcelain in the early 1690s. Under the protection of Philippe, duc d'Orléans, the factory obtained an official patent to make porcelain in 1702. The patent stated that the founder Pierre Chicaneau had discovered the secret of making porcelain and was producing work "almost as perfect" as that from China or Japan.
Vessels produced at Saint-Cloud at first consisted of imitations of contemporary metalwork forms, with blue lambrequinmotifs that copied the engraved designs on silver. New influences gradually increased the available variety, including polychrome chinoiserie, gilding, and relief decoration, all imitating Chinese and Japanese works. Saint-Cloud closed in 1766, unable to compete with the more sophisticated products of the Chantilly and Vincennes Porcelain Manufactories.