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FURSTENBERG CHINA - 1746-1753-1888

HISTORY. The hard paste porcelain factory of Furstenberg was established by the Duke of Brunswick in the castle of Furstenberg on the Weser. The factory was organised in 1746 by Baron von Langen with the aid of the "arcanist" Glaser from Bayreuth, but nothing of any moment was accomplished until Bengraf, an expert from Hochst arrived in 1753, so that manufacture may really be said to have begun at that date. The factory flourished and produced a large output, but its best period really began about 1770. Furstenberg was the one German factory that ever used any of the English china as models. The work of Bow and Chelsea furnished not a little inspiration. This connexion was doubtless due to the close family ties existing between the royal family of England and the Dukes of Brunswick. After a period of decline during the Napoleonic wars, the factory gained renewed life and was continued in operation till 1888.

THE BODY. The early paste of the Furstenberg china was greyish or yellowish in tone owing to impurities in the materials, which came from Passau. Later, this tone was eliminated and the paste was of the same cold white color and density of texture as the Dresden china.

THE GLAZE. The early glaze was greyish and full of small black specks. The later glaze was clarified, ridded of its imperfections, and rendered clear and brilliant

ARTICLES MADE AND CONTOUR. Tableware, decorative accessories such as vases, sconces, candlesticks and the like were made in large quantity at Furstenberg, and also a great many figures, groups and statuettes, both glazed and in the biscuit.

It seems to have been the policy at Furstenberg to use the wares of nearly all other factories as models so that little of a distinctive nature in contour can be ascribed to Furstenberg china. The chronological succession of Rococo forms, Neo-Classic forms and Empire forms can be traced concurrently with the vogue each commanded in other places.

TYPES OF DECORATION. Accessory to decoration, great use was made at Furstenberg of moulded raised patterns, such as basket-work, ribbing, fluting, and "webs of Rococo scrollwork in low relief." Perhaps to conceal the imperfections of paste and glaze in the early ware, moulded excrescences from the surface were often greatly exaggerated, and this exaggeration was characteristic. Piercing, fretwork and modelling in high relief were also practised, the modelled and applied reliefs which served as knobs and handles being coloured and gilt.

Sea-green and underglaze blue were probably the only two ground colors used. A great deal of purple or rose-carmine appeared in the painting, both monochrome and polychrome. Iron-red was also a favourite monochrome color. All manner of subjects supplied motifs for decoration, but the drawing of flowers, birds, figures and even of landscapes appeared to have been copied from portfolios of engravings rather than to have been inspired more directly by nature. The smooth surfaces customary during the Neo-Classic period, when there was more austerity of form and some renunciation of brilliant colour, fostered an improvement in the painted decoration. During this period there was an observable tendency to make use of Wedgwood models, just as there had been an earlier following of Bow and Chelsea, and also to pattern after the manner of Sevres.

THE MARKS. The mark was a capital F in script, painted in underglaze blue. The biscuit pieces were marked with the running horse of Brunswick impressed in the paste.

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