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AUSTRIAN CHINAWARE VIENNA CHINA - 1718-1864
HISTORY. The hard paste porcelain factory at Vienna was founded by a Dutchman, Claude du Pacquier, in 1718. This undertaking he accomplished with the aid of two runaway employees from Meissen, Samuel Stolzel an "arcanist" or expert in mixtures and mechanical processes, and Christoph Conrad Hunger, an enameller and gilder.
The factory produced work of admirable quality but du Pacquier was embarrassed by financial difficulties and eventually, in 1744, the factory with all its recipes was bought by the Empress Maria Theresa and thereafter conducted as a royal enterprise. The factory remained in the control of the State until 1864 when it was discontinued.
THE BODY. The paste of the early ware lacked the brilliance and The paste of the early ware lacked the brilliance and whiteness of the Meissen body owing to the materials used, but after a supply of better material from Bohemia the body was brought to technical perfection according to the accepted standards of hard paste porcelain.
THE GLAZE. The glaze from the start was good and was soon brought to parallel quality with the Dresden glaze.
ARTICLES MADE AND CONTOUR. Besides the customary table services and objects of decorative purport, the Vienna factory produced a great quantity of the most elaborate vases and other ornaments and a large number of figures, groups and statuettes, glazed and in biscuit.In the matter of contour, Dresden models and precedents appear to have supplied most of the impulse until the time when the Neo-Classic spirit began to assert itself, and consequently the Rococo forms flourished in florid exuberance. Even when the Neo-Classic influence became dominant, the Vienna factory without achieving any particular individuality in so doing managed to impart an ornate quality that often verged upon inconsistency. The advent of Empire forms gave greater scope for the display of sheer splendour and intricate enrichment.
TYPES Of DECORATION. Modelling in high relief, moulded ornaments in low relief impressed in the paste, piercing, fretwork, painting and gilding-all these decora tive processes were freely employed. The subjects for painted decoration included polychrome Chinese motifs; Japanese birds and flowers; Imari red, blue and gold patterns; figures and landscapes; polychrome leafy scrolls with flowers, fruit, canopies, and figures, landscapes or scenes in cartouches; similar motifs painted in black with touches of gold; "German flowers," "Indian flowers," Sevres "chintz" patterns, and hybrid flower forms; painting done over low reliefs; mythological subjects, battle scenes, and putti with their attendant embellishments. A number of good ground colours were also in use. In the latter part of the eighteenth century the practice of copying famous paintings as china decorations was followed to excess and many of the pieces of this time are terribly over-decorated.
In addition to the too lavish painted decorations, there was the further enrichment of raised gilding , which required several coats of gold, each successive coat being fired and burnished. Further ornament was engraved on this elaborate gilding. The chemist Leithner devised a palette of enamel colours more extensive than was used by any other contemporary factory; he produced an underglaze black; and he also introduced the use of platinum as well as rich gilding. Altogether, the late eighteenth century was a period of the amplest technical resources at the Vienna factory, but while some of the china then produced commands admiration, not a little of it is characterised by vulgar ostentation and indicates unpleasantly decadent taste.
THE MARKS. During the period of du Pacquier's control most of the china was unmarked. After 1744, when the factory became Crown property, the Austrian shield was painted in underglaze blue. After 1827 it was stamped in underglaze blue with a wood block. From 1784 onward the pieces were dated by the last two figures of the year impressed in the paste.