Philipp Rosenthal founded this highly successful German porcelain manufacturing company at Erkersreuth in 1879. In its early years the business thrived on decorating blanks bought in from outside companies and soon moved to Selb where a new factory was built, commencing production in 1891. After gaining an award at the Paris Exposition International of 1900, Rosenthal achieved further prominence in the early years of the 20th century through its Art Nouveau tableware, such as the Darmstadt (1905) and Donatello (1907) services, as well as figurines of contemporary subjects. In order to develop further such initiatives an Art Department was established in 1910. In common with much of German industry, Rosenthal's production was seriously disrupted by the First World War and the ensuing shortages of materials but, as the 1920s progressed the company expanded and moved its head offices to Berlin. With the exception of Wilhelm Wagenfeld's Daphne dinnerware of 1937 much of the production followed the prevailing trends in German decorative arts in the interwar years. The Second World War and its aftermath was problematic for the company but from the 1950s it began to expand both markets and production capacity, including the establishment of a glassworks department in 1950, the start of cutlery production in 1958 and diversification into furniture. Also in 1958 Rosenthal established a Design Studio in Selb in order to centralize product development activities. In 1960 Rosenthal opened the first of a series of ‘Studio Houses’ to market the company's products alongside those of other factories and studio potters approved by the firm's design advisory panel. In the early 1950s the company began its policy of commissioning leading international figures including Raymond Loewy (who designed the Continental dinnerware range in 1952), Wagenfeld, and Tapio Wirkkala (who designed the Finlandia service in 1954–7). This outlook, a useful strategy for expanding overseas markets, was consolidated in succeeding decades with commissions from Walter Gropius and artists such as Henry Moore, Nicki de Saint‐Phalle, Victor Vasarely, and Jasper Morrison, who designed the Noon porcelain dinnerware service in 1997. Throughout its life the company has undergone many corporate reorganizations, many precipitated by a series of takeovers and movement into the fields of furniture and glass, as well as the establishment of business links with companies such as Gianni Versace in Milan in 1992. In 1997 Waterford Wedgwood acquired a controlling interest in the Rosenthal Group.
Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art — Decorative Arts, Furniture, and Industrial Design.