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The French porcelain manufactory originally set up in 1738 at the Château de Vincennes by workers from Chantilly and which was to rival Meissen as the leading factory in Europe. Producing only soft-paste porcelain initially, it moved to Sèvres, west of Paris, in 1756. Louis XV, a shareholder in the factory, assumed full ownership in 1760, and placed stringent restrictions on other ceramic producers in France. Sèvres employed the best artists and craftsmen, creating new shapes and designs of high quality. The factory developed a range of superb ground colours, such as gros bleu and bleu celeste, which were combined with tooled gilt decoration and painted panels in the style of François Boucher. Figures were made in biscuit porcelain, modelled by leading sculptors, such as Falconet. Sèvres soon became the leading porcelain factory in Europe, taking over from Meissen. Both Louis XV and Louis XVI took a personal interest in the factory and porcelain was frequently given as diplomatic gifts. With the discovery of kaolin near Limoges, hard-paste porcelain began to be produced and soft-paste was phased out by 1804. The factory was nationalized during the French Revolution, but later Napoleon realized its importance. Again, it set the fashion with the creation of new designs and ambitious services, many based on antiquity. The tradition of using work by famous artists and architects continued throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Many designs embraced or set the fashion, such as those in the Art Nouveau style, shown at the International Exhibition in Paris in 1900. Sèvres regularly marked its wares, initially with interlaced Ls, after Louis XV, together with each artist's personal mark.

http://www.royalcollection.org.uk/microsites/sevres/ Description and illustrations on Royal Collection website.

Subjects: Art.

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