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SWEDISH AND DANISH CHINAWARE MARIEBERG CHINA - 1758-1788
HISTORY. The porcelain factory of Marieberg, near Stockholm, is the only establishment in Sweden we have occasion to consider. It began its existence in 1758 under the management of a certain Ehrenreich, but succeeded in producing nothing save faience until Pierre Berthevin became director in 1766. At one time or another various Frenchmen of talent were employed and, in nearly every instance, contributed materially to the improvement of the china produced. The factory passed through a number of vicissitudes and made numerous experiments with paste. Some of the china made was exceedingly beautiful, but the product was limited and the Marieberg ware is not plentiful. The manufacture came to an end in 1788.
THE BODY. The paste of Marieberg was an exceedingly variable quantity. Under Berthevin the body was a soft paste akin in composition to the French soft pastes. It was highly translucent, of a greenish yellow tone, and was sometimes marred by flaws. Between this and the white hard paste of fine, smooth texture, made for only two years, 1777 and 1778, under the Frenchman Dartou, there were many variations, but the most constant form was a semi-hard paste, white, slightly translucent, with a chalky or limy texture, and of uneven surface. The pieces made from this body are those that exhibit a peculiarly individual charm. The ware is attractive in appearance and highly prized, especially in Sweden, but it is very brittle.
THE GLAZE. The usual glaze, except the brilliant glaze on the hard paste that was made for two years, was soft and mellow and very like to that of Mennecy, which seems to have been regarded as a model.
ARTICLES MADE AND CONTOUR. The output at first consisted largely of custard cups. Other articles of tableware and sundry decorative accessories were gradually added until, at a comparatively late date, figures were included in the list of products.
The contours were almost wholly French and, for a great part of the time, were fashioned in a moderate Rococo manner. Towards the latter part of the factory's career the Neo-Classic trend became evident. Some of the early pieces were patterned so closely after the wares of Mennecy that they might almost be considered replicas.
TYPES OF DECORATION. As with the shapes of the early Marieberg china, so also was it with the manner of decoration. The methods of Mennecy decoration were so closely copied at the beginning that, without rigid scrutiny and an examination of the marks, it would be difficult to distinguish between the pieces.
Besides the Mennecy flowers and the Mennecy manner, other motifs of decoration employed included polychrome flowers of a more general character and diverse rendering, armorial bearings with garlands, medallions with wreaths and festoons, landscapes and genre subjects, coloured rims for plates with flowers in the centre, fretwork, piercings and modelled flowers that were naturalistically colored, moulded low reliefs such as basket-work, foliage and ribbings, flowers in monochrome, small landscapes in iron-red, reddish purple or copper green, enclosed within panels, often of quatrefoil shape and, very frequently, only a few gilded lines on an otherwise undecorated body. Decoration with polychrome flowers was, perhaps, the most commonly used. The monochrome flowers were often painted in pure blue, in a strong bluish green, and in a full rich purple. The last named color was especially characteristic of the factory.
THE MARKS. There are many variations in the Marieberg marks but the most usual mark is some form of the three crowns of Sweden, with or without MB. Occa sionally the fleur-de-lys from the royal arms is added. The rnark occurs in underglaze blue or in red on-glaze. Many pieces are altogether unmarked.