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STRASBURG CHINA - 1745-1754; 1766-c.1780
HISTORY. The making of hard paste porcelain at Strasburg was carried on at several different periods. Paul Antoine Hannong, a faience maker, early in the eighteenth century pursued experiments in making hard paste and, in 1726, is said to have presented the Strasburg Corporation with a service of plates, salad dishes and platters of fine white porcelain of his own production. When he died in 1739 he was reputed the first person to have made true hard paste porcelain in France. Whence he obtained the necessary kaolin and felspar is not known, but he got enough to establish material evidence that he could make what he claimed. The one indubitable piece of his making is of a greyish paste with a good white glaze and decorations painted in pale rose.
His son, Paul Hannong, who continued to operate the faience factory, began to make hard paste porcelain in 1745, believing that the ancient privileges guaranteed Strasburg when it was joined to the Kingdom of France would protect him against any action that might be brought by the porcelain makers of Saint Cloud and Vincennes. Several experienced porcelain makers, one a refugee from Meissen and the other lately come from the china factory at Hochst, joined forces with Hannong and before long the Strasburg factory was putting forth a goodly quantity of tableware, flower-pots, and numbers of the little painted groups and statuettes for which eighteenth century people had such a passion.
This venture at Strasburg aroused the fears and animosity of the management at the Vincennes factory who tried to enforce the privileges that had been granted them. Hannong therefore applied for letters-patent, but his petition producing no result, he went to Paris and, in his anxiety, appealed to Boileau the director of the Vincennes factory, offering to treat for the sale of his secrets. The negotiations came to naught, partly because the materials required by the processes were not then believed to be obtainable in France, partly because Hannong demanded a cash payment and an annuity which the Vincennes factory was not prepared to pay.
But Boileau had succeeded in getting possession of Hannong's secrets, and having done so he treated him abominably, securing an order inhibiting Hannong from manufacturing any more porcelain at Strasburg and requiring him to dismantle his oven within a fortnight. Only through the good offices of the Marechal de Noailles did Hannong gain permission to finish the work he had actually on hand. It was after this episode that Hannong, with the support and encouragement of the Archduke Charles Theodore, established the hard paste porcelain works at Frankenthal.
The second active manufacture of hard paste porcelain at Strasburg began in 1766 under Joseph Adam Hannong, the son of Paul, who had remained in charge of the faience factory when his father went to Frankenthal. His main object was a large commercial output rather than the making of ornamental wares. In this policy he was successful up to 1780 when the manufacture was discontinued.
THE BODY. The hard paste produced at Strasburg under Paul Hannong, in the 1745-I754 period, was very white but only moderately translucent; the paste of the second period, under Joseph Adam Hannong (I766-I780) was a somewhat heavy, thick substance of a slightly tawny or yellowish tone.
THE GLAZE. The glaze of the first period was apt to be imperfect, unevenly distributed, and exhibited a pitted or spotted surface; the glaze of the second period was also defective and irregular in surface.
ARTICLES MADE AND CONTOUR.In the first period the articles chiefly made were tea, coffee and chocolate services, dinner sets and ornamental flower-pots, with a certain number of the popular polychrome statuettes and figure groups; in the second period the output embraced articles of the same sort, with the addition of some pieces in biscuit.The contours in general followed the simpler contemporary shapes of Dresden, with a trend towards NeoClassic forms during the second period.
TYPES OF DECORATION. In the first period the manner of decoration resembled that of the flowered Strasburg faience, and to hide the glaze defects little flowers and insects were disposed seemingly at random. The colors most used were rose, purple and bluish green, without gilding. In the second period, the same motifs of scattered flowers and insects were often used to conceal defects of glaze. There were also Chinese motifs, flowers, and small country scenes or figures with an entourage of vegetation. Besides purple, carmine, indigo blue, green, yellow and pale rose, a characteristic bright red was used. Edges and moldings were often lined with violet carmine. Gilding was rarely used.
THE MARKS. The mark of the first period, under Paul Hannong, was "P.H." either in capitals or cursive letters, in underglaze blue or, occasionally, in rose or brown on-glaze color; the mark of the second period, under Joseph Hannong's directorship, was "Jq " in underglaze blue, often accompanied by figures indicating special patterns. The biscuit pieces bore "H" in the paste.