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NIDERVILLER CHINA - 1765-c.1850
HISTORY. The manufacture of hard paste porcelain ,was begun in 1765 at Niderviller by the Baron Jean Louis de Beyerle, one of the King's Counsellors. The porcelain e:lterprise grew out of the faience works that Baron de Beyerle had established in 1754. Kaolin was brought from Germany until Baron de Beyerle bought some of the first kaolin mines at St. Yrieix.
In 1780 General the Comte de Custine acquired the works and Franois Lanfrey became manager. The sculptor Lemire, who had worked at Luneville with Cyflle, came to Nidei-viller and modelled exquisite vases, shepherdesses, children, cupids and sundry other figures in the Louis XVI manner. Many of them were made in biscuit and materially contributed to the profit and reputation of the works. Lemire conceived the notion of creating in connexion with the factory a school of modelling and design for apprentices, a scheme attended with most admirable subsequent results. When the Comte de Custine died, Lanfrey continued as director and eventually became the owner. After Lanfrey's death, a M. Dryander became director. The factory continued working till the middle of the nineteenth century.
THE BODY. The paste at first, under Baron de Beyerle, was white and highly translucent; afterwards, under the ownership of Comte de Custine, it was less vitreous but of an equally pure white.
THE GLAZE. The glaze of the Niderviller factory was of the best quality and brilliant, closely resembling the contemporary glaze used at Sevres.
ARTICLES MADE AND CONTOUR. Besides a great quantity of beautiful tableware, tea and coffee services, vases and all the other items of usual demand, there were produced the numerous biscuit pieces that gave Niderviller a special fame. The contours of the chinaware were at first reminiscent of the manner of Dresden; later, the forms were more typically French and the Neo-Classic contours of the reign of Louis XVI were followed by the Neo-Grec shapes of the Empire period.
TYPES OF DECORATION. The earliest Niderviller china was decorated very much in the styles current at Dresden. There were numerous flower subjects, land scapes, polychrome or en camaieu , figures, and oftentimes scenes were drawn from La Fontaine's fables, the composition being enclosed within a geometrical frame or border while scattered flowers adorned the out-lying ground of the porcelain. Purple, carmine and rose were colors much in favor and there was comparatively little gilding. Later, the styles current in France were more freely followed and many of the favorite flower subjects were painted with great delicacy. The cornflower motif, introduced at Sevres, supplied the basis for much exquisite decoration. Porcelain flowers were likewise made in the Niderviller establishment and admirably coloured. Gilding was more largely used in the later work.
THE MARKS. There were no regular marks during the years of Baron de Beyerle's ownership, although a "B" or "A and N" interlaced, and impressed in the paste, are said sometimes to have been used. Under the Comte de Custine, the mark was first the letters C and N interlaced, and later it appeared as two C's crossed beneath a count's coronet. In 1792 occurs the mark "N", or the words "Nider" or "Niderviller" in underglaze blue. Lanfrey's mark was C.F.L. interlaced, in underglaze blue. Then the biscuit pieces and statuettes are marked, it is with "Niderviller" impressed.