Sevres Biscuit Collection is ASC Luther Bean Museum October Artifact of the Month

(10-04-2010)

Article by Rebekah Tirrell

What began as a small practice for the Chinese elite, turned into a collector's ideal. The Adams State College Luther Bean Museum Artifact of the Month is the Sevres Biscuit Collection of feminine figurines donated by Mrs. Beryl G. Woodard in 1985.

Originally created during the Tang Dynasty (618-907), porcelain's popularity soon spread reaching Europe in the 12th century. A company was eventually opened in Sevres, France, where the Luther Bean Museum's porcelain collection was created.

The Luther Bean Museum's porcelain is fashioned in Rococo Style, ornamented detail with a tooled surface and an applied, raised decoration.

According to curator and historian, William C. Gates, Jr., M.A., porcelain made in France was not pure, resulting in a soft clay. Soft porcelain colors are also more vibrant and to some more appealing. The matte unglazed and unpainted white Sevres porcelain, or biscuit, is popular among collectors; and the pieces presented are a fine example of how this style was and is admired. This biscuit style of porcelain began in 1738, and truly started to become more eminent in 1749, and continued until Alexandre Brongniart found the means to make the original Chinese porcelain. During the 1770s, a more restrained neo-classical influence took over the art.

From 1738 until 1876 the Sevres Porcelain Factory underwent a variety of changes. Chantilly workers moved their porcelain workplace to the Chateau de Vincennes, near Paris, to open up a larger production factory. Around 1752, King Louis XV became involved and invested in the work and production and compensated the company to move to Sevres, a suburb of Paris. This gave them their name, Sevres Porcelain Factory. Due to the Revolution and the New French Republic, the company went out of business by 1800. The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, makes note that when Napoleon Bonaparte took the throne, Brongniart resurrected Sevres Porcelain, helping restore it to its golden age of the mid-18th century. In 1876, the factory moved again to St. Cloud, where it remains today.

The Antique China Porcelain and Collectibles, a working site for NACQ Partners Inc, indicates that porcelain from Sevre'' golden age in the 18th century is rare, especially in the biscuit style because of its fragility. Many of the more elaborate pieces are in museums today. Antiques Art Collectibles website also mentions how genuine pieces are rarely offered for sale outside specialist dealers and auction rooms. The biscuit pieces found in Luther Bean Museum are dated ca. 1753.

The Luther Bean Museum is located on the Adams State College campus in Richardson Hall, second floor south end. The museum is free and open to the public. It is open from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays. For more information call 719-587-7151; email asclutherbean@adams.edu; or visit the website adams.edu/lutherbean.

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