CERAMICS & POTTERY & PORCELAIN
The crystallinity of ceramic materials varies from very oriented to semi-crystalline, vitrified and often completely amorphous (for example, glasses). Most often, fired ceramics are either vitrified or semi-vitrified as is the case for earthenware, stoneware and porcelain.
The earliest man-made ceramics were pottery objects (i.e. pots or containers) or clay figurines, either alone or mixed with other materials such as silica, hardened and sintered over a fire . Subsequent ceramics were glazed and fired to create smooth, colored surfaces, decreasing porosity through the use of vitreous and amorphous ceramic coatings on crystalline ceramic substrates. Ceramics includes a wide range of ceramic art.
Porcelain slowly evolved in China and was finally made (depending on the definition used) around 2000 to 1200 years ago, then slowly spread to other countries in East Asia, and finally to Europe and the rest of the world. Its manufacturing process is more demanding than that of earthenware and stoneware, the other two main types of pottery, and it is generally considered to be the most prestigious type of pottery for its delicacy, solidity and white color. It combines well with enamels and paint, and can be very well modeled, allowing a wide range of decorative treatments in the tableware, containers and figurines.
Traditionally, East Asia only classifies pottery into items of low cooking (earthenware) and high cooking (often translated by porcelain), the latter also including what Europeans call stoneware, which is on high heat but not generally white or translucent. Terms such as "proto-porcelain", "pigs" or "quasi-porcelain" can be used in cases where the ceramic body approaches whiteness and translucency.
These exported Chinese porcelain was held in such high esteem in Europe that English porcelain has become a commonly used synonym for the Italian term porcelain. The first mention of porcelain in Europe is found in Il Milione by Marco Polo in the 13th century. Besides the copy of Chinese earthenware porcelain (tin enameled earthenware), Medici soft paste porcelain from Florence in the 16th century was the first real European attempt to reproduce it, with little success.
At the beginning of the 16th century, Portuguese traders returned home with samples of kaolin, which they discovered in China as essential for the production of porcelain articles. However, the Chinese techniques and composition used to make porcelain were not yet fully understood. Countless experiments to produce porcelain have had unpredictable results and have failed. In the German state of Saxony, research ended in 1708 when Ehrenfried Walther von Tschirnhaus produced a hard, white and translucent porcelain specimen with a combination of ingredients, including kaolin and alabaster, extracted from a Saxon mine in Colditz. It was a closely guarded trade secret of the Saxon company.
In 1712, many secrets of elaborate Chinese porcelain manufacture were revealed throughout Europe by the French Jesuit father François Xavier d'Entrecolles and soon published in the uplifting and curious Letters of China by Jesuit missionaries. The secrets, which d'Entrecolles read and saw in China, were now known and were beginning to be used in Europe.
Von Tschirnhaus and Johann Friedrich Böttger were employed by Auguste II le Fort and worked in Dresden and Meissen in the German state of Saxony. Tschirnhaus had a broad knowledge of science and had been involved in the European quest to perfect the manufacture of porcelain when, in 1705, Böttger was appointed to assist in this task. Böttger had initially trained as a pharmacist; after turning to alchemical research, he claimed to have known the secret of transmuting slag into gold, which attracted the attention of Augustus. Imprisoned by Auguste as an incentive to hasten his research, Böttger was forced to work with other alchemists in the futile search for transmutation and was ultimately assigned to help Tschirnhaus. One of the first results of the collaboration between the two was the development of a red sandstone that resembled that of Yixing.
A workshop note reports that the first specimen of hard, white and vitrified European porcelain was produced in 1708. At the time, research was still supervised by Tschirnhaus; however, he died in October of the same year. It was up to Böttger to point out to Augustus in March 1709 that he could make porcelain. For this reason, the merit of the European discovery of porcelain is traditionally attributed to him rather than to Tschirnhaus.
The Meissen factory was established in 1710 after the development of an oven and a glaze that could be used with Böttger porcelain, which required firing at temperatures up to 1400 ° C (2552 ° F ) to achieve translucency. Meissen porcelain was once cooked or green.
In France Experiments in Rouen produced the first soft paste in France, but the first major French soft paste porcelain was manufactured at the Saint-Cloud factory before 1702. Soft paste factories were established with the manufacture of Chantilly in 1730 and Mennecy in 1750. The Vincennes porcelain factory was created in 1740, moving to larger premises in Sèvres in 1756. The soft paste from Vincennes was whiter and freer from imperfections than it was. any of its French rivals, which placed Vincennes / Sèvres porcelain first in France and throughout Europe in the second half of the 18th century
In Italy The Doccia porcelain from Florence was founded in 1735 and remains in production, unlike the Capodimonte porcelain which was moved from Naples to Madrid by its royal owner, after having produced from 1743 to 1759. After an interval of 15 years, Naples porcelain was produced from 1771 to 1806, specializing in neoclassical styles. All of these have been very successful, with large outlets of high quality goods. In and around Venice, Francesco Vezzi produced hard dough from around 1720 to 1735; Vezzi porcelain survivals are very rare, but less than those of the Hewelke factory, which only lasted from 1758 to 1763. The Cozzi soft paste factory held up better, from 1764 to 1812. The Le Nove factory produced from 1752 to 1773 approximately. , then was relaunched from 1781 to 1802.
In England The first soft cheese in England was demonstrated by Thomas Briand to the Royal Society in 1742 and is said to have been based on the Saint-Cloud formula. In 1749, Thomas Frye filed a patent on a porcelain containing bone ashes. It was the first bone porcelain, later perfected by Josiah Spode.