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COPENHAGEN CHINA - 1756 TO PRESENT DAY
HISTORY. About 1756 a porcelain factory was opened at Copenhagen with J. G. Mehlhorn, a former Dresden modeller, as director. Mehlhorn's directorship seems to have produced no tangible results in the shape of porcelain and only experiments were made. It was not until 1759, when a Frenchman, Louis Fournier, who had worked at both Sevres and Chantilly, came to Copenhagen and succeeded Mehlhorn that a soft paste porcelain was made. This soft paste porcelain, whose body sometimes resembled that of Saint Cloud and Chantilly, was of pleasant quality and continued to be made till the end of 1765, when Fournier was succeeded by Frantz Muller. _V~hough Muller continued for a while to make soft paste porcelain, he was experimenting with hard pastes of which he produced a sort by 1772 or 1773. This body was much improved by 1776 and perfected by 1780.
Under private management the establishment was beset by financial difficulties so that, in 1779, it was taken over by the King and then began an highly successful career.
THE BODY. The soft paste body made during Fournier's management was translucent and of a creamy or more or less yellowish tinge while the soft paste made under the first part of Muller's regime had a greyish tone. The first hard paste made by Muller was darkish and somewhat grey. It was improved until, by 1780, it was hard, translucent and pure white.
ARTICLES MADE AND CONTOUR. Under Fournier the pieces produced were, for the most part, of small size and included bowls, powder-boxes, cups, custard cups, cream jugs, sugar-basons, breakfast sets and small vases. The list was gradually increased to include full sets of tableware, tea services, flower pots, tankards, tureens, punch bowls and a number of decorative accessories. From 1780 onward much larger, more "important" and elaborate vases, clock cases, mirror frames and sconces were added to the list, along with numerous figures, both glazed and in biscuit.
Although certain German influences in contour could be traced from time to time, the French influence was clearly predominant. The more restrained Rococo shapes were at first prevalent but were gradually supplanted by Neo-Classic forms. From 1780 onward the Neo-Classic types were universal and were later followed by the NeoGrec shapes.
TYPES OF DECORATION. Polychrome flowers, in the manner of Chantilly, supplied one of the earliest motifs and always remained in favour. Besides these, the decorative scope included modelling in high relief, fretwork, moulded ornamentation in low relief such as ribbings, flutings and foliage patterns, the use of ground colors, wreaths, garlands, landscapes, flowers and landscapes en camaieu or in two colors such as purple and copper green, Classic heads in wreathed and garlanded medallions, contemporary portrait medallions, landscapes and heads in grisaille, Chinese subjects, a few comics and battle scenes, and the minute later flowers such as the cornflower motif popularised by Sevres. The gilding was good and used in moderate amount. There was always a fondness for decorations in blue and white and the Strohblumen and "onion" patterns borrowed from Dresden were always great favourites and have remained so to the present day. They are commonly known as "Copenhagen" patterns.
THE MARKS. The Copenhagen mark is three wavy lines in underglaze blue. Many of the earlier pieces are unmarked, but from Muller's time onward this mark has appeared and is still well known on the modern wares of Copenhagen factory.