In 1718, Claudius Innocentius du Paquier completed a risky mission to bring the closely guarded secret of how to make porcelain to ViennaIn recognition of his achievements, Emperor Karl VI granted him the special privilege of being Vienna’s sole porcelain producer. This is how Europe’s second porcelain manufactory (the first one was in Meissen) came to be founded in Vienna in the street which is today known as “Porzellangasse”.
In 1744, the Manufactory was taken under Imperial ownership by Empress Maria Theresia.Since then, every piece produced by Augarten has borne the blue-striped shield from the coat of arms of the Dukes of Austria underneath the glaze to confirm its authenticity. Maria Theresia ruled during the lively Rococo period, the spirit of which was reflected in the products of the Vienna Porcelain Manufactory. Fanciful genre scenes borrowed from the works of famous painters like Antoine Watteau are an unmistakable hallmark of that era.
The Manufactory enjoyed a golden age under the management of Conrad Sörgel von Sorgenthal.This “artistic period” of Classicism celebrated the return to straight lines and artistic styles from the Antiquity. Porcelain produced during that time features relief gold decoration, palmettes, and horns of plenty.
The Congress of Vienna helped the Vienna Porcelain Manufactory to earn itself an excellent reputation at home and abroad, and its products became highly-prized possessions in many of Europe’s royal households.
During the Biedermeier era, Viennese porcelain became a status symbol for the aspiring middle classes.The hand-made gems that graced the tables of wealthy citizens of that time featured designs and decoration like the “Viennese Rose” and other floral styles which remain popular today.
Rapid growth in competition at home and abroad finally forced the famous company to close down in 1864. Its extensive collection of designs was donated to the Museum of Art and Industry, which is now the Museum of Applied Art. An important chapter in Austrian history had come to an end – or so it seemed.
Then, 60 years later, on May 2, 1923, the porcelain manufactory was reopened in Augarten Castle, where it still stands today. Established under the new name “Vienna Porcelain Manufactory Augarten”, its ethos was to continue the tradition of the former Imperial manufactory while also making room for fresh ideas. Receptive to modern trends, the Manufactory produced designs by contemporary artists including Josef Hoffmann, Michael Powolny, Franz von Zülow, and other representatives of the Vienna Workshops (Wiener Werkstätte). Today, cooperation with well-known artists continues to shape the company’s style and feed its unique flair for combining the traditional with the modern.
The particular stylistic feel of the 1950s, the start of a new age, manifested itself not only in music and fashion but also in porcelain.
Buoyant décors, modern shapes and elegant designs are typical for this time. Margarethe Rader-Soulek, Ursula Klasmann and Elfriede Teufelhart, all of them were Oswald Haerdtl‘s students , created porcelain icons of the fifties.
The Vienna Porcelain Manufactory creates innovations with artists and designers since its foundation.
Gundi Dietz, Thomas Feichtner, Philip Bruni, Gottfried Palatin or Gabriele Rothemann are just a few designers, who created one-of-a-kind pocelain items in the last years. The perfume flacon Vulpini from the designerduo Wendy & Jim is one of the pieces, which shows the symbiosis of tradtition and innovation in the Vienna Porcelain Manufactory Augarten.