March 14, 2012

...and before the begining!

Previous post refers to the earliest porcelain of Europe: However, this is not absolutely accurate.....
 This cup & saucer is from the Saint Cloud porcelain factory, France. While Meissen has its origins in 1710, Saint Cloud is decades earlier.......
In 1702, Philippe II, Duke of Orléans gave letters-patent to the family of Pierre Chicaneau, who were said to have been making porcelain as "perfect as the Chinese" since 1693. This was the origins of Saint Cloud.....
Our example dates to circa 1725..... note the unusual base: the radiating rifts show the clay was not quite right when the back was turned on the jig, to make the footrim..... it tore in a spiral pattern, The pieces are incredibly thick, also, showing a vast difference between the Meissen hard paste and this French soft paste: the Meissen is thin because it is true Hard paste, which can be potted to a very fine thickness, due to the strength of the clay.
Soft paste Saint Cloud, however, could not be made so thin, or it would collapse in the firing. It is not a true porcelain, but an artificial one, lacking an important ingredient. The soft is an apt description..... it reflects the light in a very different way....... softly. Light enters the body and is diffused within, like a net curtain on a window with sunlight into a room.  Meissen hard paste is like the Chinese, being very dense and harsh, allowing light through in a uniform manner - like a louver blind.
The mark is fascinating on this piece. Usually, there is a St C or Saint Cloud. This example belongs to a group of as-yet unexplained letter marked pieces. 
The British Museum has an example with an M mark. The Sevres museum has two similar examples, one with an H mark, another with an F mark. In the Rosenberg Collection in Geelong, there is one with a B. All are cups of the same form, with the same design. The reason for these marks is uncertain, they are all Saint Cloud pieces so it is not a manufacturers mark, but an internal factory code of some sort.

This Saint Cloud cup & saucer can be seen in our 2012 catalogue.... download the full PDF here,
or have a preview of a few more items here.