The Discovery of Porcelain


    The year 1768 saw the discovery of Kaolin, a special white clay, at St. Yrieix La Perche in France. This discovery formed the foundation of the porcelain industry. Turgot, who was the Intendant of the Limousin area at that time, recognized it's economic potential in that rather poor region, where all other elements necessary for the output were readily available. Underground deposits around Limoges also included metals which since the Middle Ages had been in use to provide metallic oxides for coloring enamel and Faïence. In 1771, the faïence manufacture was converted into a porcelain manufacture, and the region's first hard-paste porcelain went into production.

    In 1774, the factory was placed under the protection of the Count d'Artois, and became Undecorated Porcelain Lamba subsidiary of the royal factory in Sèvres ten years later. In the wake of the French Revolution, only private concerns continued in Limoges. In the early 19th century, the factories began making the most perfect white porcelain in existence at that time, proving the superiority of Limoges kaolin. By the 1830s, there were as many as thirty porcelain factories in Limoges. The second half of the 19th century was the golden age of Limoges porcelain. Their international reputation of excellence grew with the development of exports, as well as with the triumph of Limoges porcelain at universal expositions around the world in and after 1855.

     Limoges became famous for its undecorated white porcelain artifacts created by the most talented artisans in Limoges and often shown at the trade shows in Paris. White porcelain was very much a novelty and was left undecorated so that people could see the high quality of this unblemished new material called porcelain. In addition, the French porcelain became famous for certain types of enamel colors such as cobalt blue.