Hard-paste porcelain

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Porcelain dish, Chinese Qing, 1644 - 1911, Hard-paste decorated in underglaze cobalt blue V&A Museum no. 491-1931[1] Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Hard-paste porcelain is a ceramic material that was originally made from a compound of the feldspathic rock petuntse and kaolin fired at very high temperature. It was first made in China around the 7th or 8th century.[2]


Chinese porcelain began to be exported to Europe by the Portuguese and later by the Dutch from the middle of the 16th century, creating vast demand for the material. The discovery in Europe of the secret of its manufacture has conventionally been credited to Johann Friedrich Böttger of Meissen, Germany in 1708,[3] but it has also been claimed that English manufacturers[4] or Ehrenfried Walther von Tschirnhaus produced porcelain first.[5][6] Certainly, the Meissen factory, established 1710, was the first to produce porcelain in Europe in large quantities and since the recipe was kept a trade secret by Böttger for his company, experiments continued elsewhere throughout Europe.

Section of the letter of François Xavier d'Entrecolles about Chinese porcelain manufacturing techniques, 1712, published by Jean-Baptiste du Halde in 1735.

In 1712, the French Jesuit François Xavier d'Entrecolles described the Chinese process of manufacturing porcelain in his letters to Europe. Hard-paste, or just hard porcelain, now chiefly refers to formulations prepared from mixtures of kaolin, feldspar and quartz. Other raw materials can also be used and these include pottery stones, which historically were known as petunse although this name has long fallen out of use.[7]


Hard-paste porcelain is now differentiated from soft-paste porcelain mainly by the firing temperature, with the former being higher, to around 1400°C, and the latter to around 1200°C.[8][9] Depending on the raw materials and firing methods used, hard-paste porcelain can also resemble stoneware or earthenware. Hard-paste porcelain can also be used for bisque porcelain. It is a translucent and bright, white ceramic. As it is almost impermeable to water, it is unnecessary to glaze the body. Manufactures include Lladro, Hummel and Royal Worcester.

Hard-paste has the advantage over soft-paste that it is less likely to crack when exposed to hot liquids, but the higher firing temperature of hard-paste may restrict the decorative options available.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Porcelain dish". Ceramics. Victoria and Albert Museum. Retrieved 2007-12-06. 
  2. ^ Fleming, John & Hugh Honour. (1977) The Penguin Dictionary of Decorative Arts. London: Allen Lane, p. 622. ISBN 0713909412
  3. ^ Hildyard, Robin. (1999) European Ceramics. London: V&A Publications, p.46. ISBN 1851772596
  4. ^ Pots of fame economist.com, 31 March 2010. Retrieved 28 November 2013. Archived here.
  5. ^ Biography of Ehrenfried Walther von Tschirnhaus Tschirnhaus Society, 9 February 2006. Retrieved 28 November 2013. Archived here.
  6. ^ "The Discovery of European Porcelain Technology" by C.M. Queiroz & S. Agathopoulos, 2005.
  7. ^ ‘Chinese Porcelain’. N.Wood. Pottery Q. 12, (47), 101, 1977
  8. ^ Singer, F. and Singer, S.S., Industrial Ceramics (Chapman Hall, 1963).
  9. ^ Rado, Paul, An Introduction To The Technology Of Pottery (Pergamon Press, 1988).

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