Imperial Porcelain Factory

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Imperial Porcelain Factory (Lomonosov Porcelain Factory)
Native name Императорский Фарфоровый Завод
Industry Hand-painted Ceramics Manufacturing
Founded Saint Petersburg, Russia (1744 (1744))
Founder(s) Dmitry Ivanovich Vinogradov
Headquarters Saint Petersburg, Russia
Area served International
Owner(s) Nikolai Tsvetkov
Website www.ipm.ru

The Imperial Porcelain Factory (or Manufactory) (Russian: Императорский Фарфоровый Завод, Imperatorskii Farforovyi Zavod), is a producer of handpainted ceramics in Saint Petersburg, Russia. It was established by Dmitry Ivanovich Vinogradov in 1744. Many still refer to the factory by its well-known former name, Lomonosov Porcelain Factory.

Imperial Years[edit]

Russian porcelain in Kuskovo

Founded in 1744, the porcelain factory was created by the order of Empress Elizabeth to "serve native trade and native art."[1] The factory produced wares exclusively for the ruling Romanov family and the Russian Imperial Court.

The attempts to reveal the secret of porcelain making had been taken in Russia since 1718 visit of Peter the Great to Saxony, where he saw the Saxon invention at the Dresden Court. A talented mining engineer Dmitry Vinogradov who studied metal industry at Freiberg had invented the formula of the Russian porcelain. In 1744 Empress Elizabeth, daughter of Peter the Great, established the first porcelain manufactory in Russia.

1744-1762 The Vinogradov Period[edit]

The Russian porcelain by Vinogradov had quality similar to the Saxon porcelain while its formula which consisted of only Russian ingredients reminded of the Chinese porcelain. At the beginning of the Vinogradov period the motifs were monochrome and simplified while at the end of this period the fine miniatures were completed on porcelain. The gold paint for porcelain was prepared from golden coins from the Imperial Treasury.

1762-1801. Catherine’s Porcelain. Porcelain of Paul I Reign. Early Classicism[edit]

‘The Golden Age of Catherine’ – the reign of Catherine II the Great – was the age of prosperity for the fine Russian porcelain. In 1765 the manufactory was renamed to the Imperial Porcelain Manufactory.

From the very beginning of Catherine the Great’s reign IPM was obliged to produce fine porcelain and to bring profit. The Imperial Court’s need for porcelain was large and the permanent orders from the Court had let IPM keep to the highest quality of the expensive porcelain.

Paul I reign continued from 1796 to 1801. The art of the Russian porcelain continued to develop in style of classicism with the increasing influence of the Hellenic and the Roman motifs.

IPM Porcelain in the 19th Century. 1801-1825. Porcelain of Alexander’s Reign. Restructuring of IPM. High Classicism, Empire Style[edit]

The works of the Imperial Porcelain Factory abound in the former residences of the Russian emperors such as Peterhof and Tsarskoe Selo

The masters from Berlin Koeniglische Porzellan Manufaktur and artists of porcelain making from Sèvres were invited, the kiln chamber was restructured.

In 1806 a prohibitory law was adopted putting a ban to import of porcelain to Russia and after this adoption the competition between a variety of the Russian private porcelain factories had risen. The production line of IPM porcelain was divided into an expensive low-profit Royal presents department and an ordinary porcelain department which produced lower-priced porcelain for consumers for the Russian nobility.

1825-1894. Historical period. Reigns of Nicholas I (r.1825-1855), Alexander II (r.1855-1881), Alexander III (r.1881-1894)[edit]

Since the reign of Nicholas I (r.1825 to 1855) the imported kaolin from Limoges had been used. Porcelain plaques and large porcelain items of high perfection were made. A special method of gilding of porcelain with a durable gilt which stayed on and looked perfectly with soft polishing and brilliance had been invented, although subsequently lost.

Nicholas I took part in the managing of IPM. The projects of porcelain items were handed in to him for his confirmation. The manufactory’s own museum was established in 1844. Later on a library was formed from rare books on art, paintings and engravings.

By the beginning of reign of Alexander II (r.1855-1881) IPM had worked only on imported raw materials. A year before the abolition of serfdom the IPM workers had been given freedom but many of them continued to work at IPM.

The number of the Imperial Court’s orders decreased. The porcelain was produced mainly on old samples. From the beginning of the 1870s copying of the famous paintings on porcelain had ceased, the landscapes had been painted rarely. The ornamental decoration prevailed. IPM started to use coloured glazes and to decorate their porcelain with pate-sur-pate patterns.

The idea of closing down the ‘useless and unprofitable’ enterprise emerged in 1881. Later on the idea transformed into the assignation of IPM to the Imperial Academy of Arts but Alexander III, whose reign had just started by then, commanded to create the best possible conditions from technological and arts point of view to IPM so that IPM could bear its name "Imperial" with dignity and be a standard for all private porcelain manufactory owners.

In 1889 the new glaze sang-de-boeuf formula was invented. Since 1892 the underglaze decoration technology had been mastered with the help of the Danish experts. The Russian Emperor was married to a Danish princess and paid interest to the underglaze painting.

1894-1917. The Russian Art Nouveau. Reign of Nicholas II[edit]

By the beginning of the new 20th century the IPM had become one of the leading porcelain factories in Europe. IPM porcelain was famous for its exceptional quality. It was produced from paste made of the highest quality ingredients on up-to-date equipment. This paste was stored in cellars for 10 years before use in production.

The Art Nouveau style influenced the shapes of the porcelain. Porcelain was produced with whimsically curved forms decorated by stylized plants, mermaids and other Art Nouveau motifs. As a rule, the vases were covered by underglaze decor. Every vase had a unique form. The underglaze decoration made it possible for the artists to paint changeable seasons and winter landscapes.

The IPM began to produce technical and chemical porcelain due to the end of imports of porcelain from Germany during World War I. The production of fine porcelain was decreased to a minimal level. All the fine porcelain items produced were sold at charity auctions benefitting the Royal hospitals. Only Easter eggs were produced in large quantities for Easter celebrations of soldiers.

After the October Revolution of 1917 IPM was nationalized and renamed to State Porcelain Factory (GFZ).[2] (The Cooper–Hewitt, National Design Museum collection has 51 objects from the State Porcelain Factory.)[3]

After the Revolution[edit]

Cobalt net, the trademark style of the Imperial Porcelain Factory.

With the abolition of the Russian monarchy in 1917, the Imperial Porcelain Factory was renamed "State Porcelain Factory" (GFZ - Gossudarstvennyi Farforovyi Zavod) by the Bolshevik regime.[1] During the early years of the Soviet Union, the GFZ produced so-called propaganda wares, ranging from plates to figurines of the Soviet elite.[4]

In 1925, on the occasion of the 200th jubilee of the Russian Academy of Science, it was given the name of the academy's founder, Mikhail Lomonosov. It became known as the Leningrad Lomonosov Porcelain Factory (LFZ - Leningradski Farforovyi Zavod imeni M.V. Lomonosova).[5] The newly christened Lomonosov factory produced a range of wares, including collectible animal figurines and dinner sets.

Its best-known pattern, cobalt net, first appeared in 1949. The design is based on a pink net pattern that was painted on raised lines cast into the porcelain dinnerware pieces of Catherine the Great. The factory has actual examples of Catherine's dinnerware with this design. The new design pattern is a combination of intersecting lines of cobalt blue with inverted tear drops of cobalt blue (made from mineral cobalt) and 22 karat gold accents.[6]

After the Soviet Era[edit]

LFZ became privatized in 1993 as the "Lomonosov Porcelain Factory". At that time, wide exports began to countries unfamiliar with Lomonosov wares, particularly the United States and Japan. In 1999, KKR, an American investing firm, bought a controlling interest in LFZ. This prompted a long legal battle in Russia, made headlines in international business journals, and ultimately resulted in a legal victory for the American investors. However, when it became apparent that the American investors were primarily interested in looting the factory's priceless museum[citation needed], the Russian Government forced the investors to relinquish control of the museum to the Hermitage. Having no real interest in running a porcelain factory, in 2002, the American investors sold LFZ to Nikolai Tsvetkov, President of Nikoil, who acquired the famed factory as a present for his wife on the occasion of the International Women's Day of March 8.

Return to Old Name[edit]

On 29 May 2005, the stockholders of Lomonosov Porcelain Factory passed a resolution to return to their pre-Soviet name, the Imperial Porcelain Manufactory.[7]

The IPM has recently started to produce hand-made copies of porcelain from the range of Imperial porcelain exhibited in the State Hermitage Museum collection. This range includes dinner sets, collectable plates, vases, figurines from the famous series of the Russian Peoples and other porcelain items from the assortment of porcelain made here since the foundation of the manufactory in 1744.

Post-Soviet Backstamps[edit]

Post-2002 LFZ Backstamp
Post-2005 IFZ Backstamp

The first post-Soviet export backstamp was a red LFZ monogram, with "Made in Russia" stamped in red. After 2002, a new export backstamp appeared which featured a red or a blue LFZ monogram along with the words "Hand Decorated, 1744, St. Petersburg, Russia." The post-2005 pieces are stamped "Imperial Porcelain, 1744, St. Petersburg," along with the double-headed imperial eagle.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b The Lomonosov Porcelain Story, [1], accessed 18 June 2007
  2. ^ Imperial Porcelain: The History of Russian Imperial Porcelain from 1744 to 1917: [2]
  3. ^ Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. "State Porcelain Factory". Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 18 December 2012. 
  4. ^ After the October Revolution, [3], accessed 18 June 2007
  5. ^ Porcelain of the Czars, [4], accessed 18 June 2007
  6. ^ About Lomonosov Porcelain, [5], accessed 18 June 2007
  7. ^ "Press Releases" archive, Official Lomonosov Porcelain Factory website, [6], accessed 18 June 2007 (in Russian)

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 59°52′49″N 30°26′30″E / 59.88028°N 30.44167°E / 59.88028; 30.44167