An Introduction to Vienna Porcelain: From the Baroque Fantasies of
du Paquier to the Challenge of Contemporary Table Culture
Monday, December 11, 2023
2 PM via Zoom
Figures of dancers, actors and a rose gardener by sculptress Mathilde Jaksch (1899-1969)
Augarten Porcelain Manufactory, Vienna, 1926-1929, Augarten Porcelain Museum, Vienna
This lecture will focus on the history of Vienna porcelain, its artistic character and its cultural impact through the past centuries.
It all started at a summer house in the smart Vienna suburb of Rossau, where a small group of artists and craftsmen experimented with the brand-new material, porcelain, under the direction of the entrepreneur Claudius Innocentius du Paquier. By May 1718, their progress was sufficient for Emperor Charles VI to issue a charter for an imperial porcelain manufactory, the second European manufactory after Meissen.
In the early wares, Chinese influences blended with European models and the full richness of Baroque fantasy. In 1744, the manufactory was taken over by the Empress Maria Theresa and the style was transformed by the new taste for rock, shell and scroll motifs (rocailles), figural table centrepieces and floral décors. A generation later, the Enlightenment director Conrad von Sorgenthal introduced the Neoclassical aesthetic and implemented reforms. The factory’s decorators received training at the Academy of Art, and the master modeller Anton Grassi visited archaeological sites of classical antiquity, resulting in refined biscuit figures. In the nineteenth century, new colors developed by the factory’s chemists generated the bold gaiety of Biedermeier porcelain. Right up to its closure in 1864, the manufactory maintained high artistic standards in the face of fiercely competitive mass production.
In 1923 came the long-desired re-establishment, in Vienna’s Augarten district, with the involvement of bankers, scholars and artists. In true Wiener Werkstätte spirit, the new manufactory upheld the finest traditions of craftsmanship, but was also open to currents in modern art. Contributors to its international successes included Josef Hoffmann, Vally Wieselthier, Michael Powolny, Franz von Zülow, Friedrich von Berzeviczy-Pallavicini and Ena Rottenberg.
Present-day Augarten Vienna Porcelain Manufactory is carrying on the history of Vienna’s ‘musical’ porcelain with a symbiosis of pragmatism and sensuality and with a new generation of designers focusing on contemporary dining culture.
Dr. Claudia Lehner-Jobst was granted her doctorate in history of art, culture and ideas from the University of Applied arts in Vienna with a thesis on Viennese porcelain of the Enlightenment. She has worked as a consultant for international museums and private collections in the field of fine and decorative arts and is currently director and collections curator of the Augarten Porcelain Museum in Vienna. She has been curator of exhibitions at major museums, such as the Liechtenstein Museum, the Palazzo Pitti and the Künsthistorisches Museum, and she is the author and co-author of numerous publications, including the recent book: Brittle Beauty: Reflections on 18th-century European Porcelain, London, 2023