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by the state, not only supported itself, but was enabled to repay 16,000 forins of its old debt.
In the course of the sixteenth year it increased still more rapidly; and at the end of the year 1770 showed a profit of 120,000 florins, having 200 labourers, who in the year 1780 numbered 320. But this rapid increase had no solid foundation. From 1740 to 1790 was the best period for figures and groups, generally termed plastic work, while from 1780 to 1820 painting on china met with great success, the subjects being generally taken from Watteau, Laneret, and Bouchet, also allegorical representations of children, fortune, and love; the latter, however, had little originality or
When the factory became the property of the state, every article was marked with the arms of Austria, without colour—subsequently with a beehive with blue cross lines; this mark was retained till the cessation of the factory; and from the year 1784 to the third, or Lörgenthal period, it was also the custom to mark every piece with the number of the year. I name this, as it may be
of great assistance to the inexperienced bric-àbrac hunter, who seeks early specimens of Vienna porcelain.
On the 20th of July, 1784, the Emperor decided that the factory should be sold by auction, and although the sum fixed as a limit for the sale was not half of its real value, not an individual made an offer. · This saved the factory; and its best period, commenced by Baron Lörgenthal, marked out an entirely new era of taste and production; and Vienna, heretofore an imitator, acquired such powers of invention as soon to become an originator in beauty of form and design; indeed, second to no European factory. Lörgenthal knew the great value of artistic work; and all his productions were consequently ornamental, richly decorated, but simple and tasteful; indeed, the art was brought to the highest perfection, while at the same time the price was reduced as much as possible. At this period artists and painters of the highest talent and public reputation were employed. The preparation of colours-a very
important question in porcelain decoration—was intrusted to a first-rate chemist or arcanist, Joseph Leithner. Under such auspices, painting on Vienna china was not to be surpassed, although considered, during the period to which I allude, not equal to Sèvres or even Dresden. There exist specimens of unrivalled beauty and consummate taste, both as regards colour and unequalled gilding. Indeed I have seen cups and vases equal to, if not surpassing, any other factory, Capo di Monte and Bueno Retiro excepted.
Thus the Vienna porcelain manufactory, as time passed on, having as it were gained the summit of perfection, gradually increased in beauty as in art. The master-pieces of Raphael and Titien, Rubens and Gerard Dow, Guido Reni and Carracci, Rembrandt and Claude, as also the works of living artists, were copied with the greatest possible perfection on porcelain, coloured from the finest selections.
Leithner continued to enrich the factory by his inventions. He used the finest gold, and brought the gilding to the utmost perfection; moreover, he discovered a rich cobalt-blue, and a red-brown colour, which no other factory could imitate; while his glazing was remarkably smooth. In fact, every branch of the ceramic art was improved during Lörgenthal's direction, which was naturally accompanied by an equal commercial success.
Such was the position of the factory when Lörgenthal died in 1805, after having been at the head of the establishment for twenty years.
Lörgenthal was succeeded by Niedermeyer; but war soon affected the pursuits of arts, and in 1809 one hundred and fifty of the workmen left the factory to carry the knapsack.
Nevertheless, in 1818, its motto might most justly have been, “Aucto splendore resurgam,” and when the century festival took place, notwithstanding past misfortunes and difficulties, the Imperial factory had reason to boast of its laurels, and then employed 500 workmen.
The years from 1785 to 1815 were the most flourishing; and the Vienna manufactory might then be fairly considered second to none in Europe.
From 1827, however, under the direction of Scholz, who followed Niedermeyer, it was on the decline-economy, clay of inferior quality, indifferent workmen, copies from French models, bad artists, and its doom was sealed. The splendid gilding, artistic shapes, lovely groups, and exquisite painting, all gave place to cheaper and less-refined productions; and that which heretofore might most justly be considered a manufactory of the highest art, dwindled into a modern factory of a secondary class. The expense to the state was therefore great.
Sèvres, Meissen, and Berlin have, however, now lost their formidable rival. The Vienna factory's doom was fixed by the imperial parliament, and it has disappeared from the circle of its younger Austrian colleagues, for which it was once the standard; who may profit by its history. The books on art, and all the drawings of its most successful period, many of its models, its library, its ceramic collection, were given to the Austrian Museum, recently established in Vienna, to be retained as a lasting memorial of its celebrity.