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Faience plate, dated 1555, probably from Nuremberg

Fayence is the French name derived from the Italian city of Faenza for a sub-area of ​​handcrafted ceramics . In Fayencen is open porosity ge sintertes earthenware , the yellowish-gray to brownish or reddish, absorbent shards with a white (often colored) opaque glaze is coated. An essential part of the glaze is tin frit . Faiences are usually painted blue or multicolored.

Concept and delimitation

The word faience is taken from the French faïence [fa´jã: s] , which in turn was derived from the Italian production site Faenza in the 16th century. Works made of earthenware that have been coated with an engobe of light clay slip and a transparent lead glaze are not real faiences . Occasionally these are inexactly referred to as "semi-Bavaria" or "mezzo-majolica".

Partly as distinct from faience, partly as their sub-term is as majolica with the art historical parlance high-fired colors painted, Spanish and Italian zinnglasierte crockery referred mainly from its heyday in the 15th and 17th centuries. In ceramic technology and colloquial language, majolica is still used today for various types of glazed pottery. This has been going on since the end of the 19th century, when in the course of historicism the largely lost production of tin-glazed goods was taken up again and their manufacturers liked to call themselves majolica manufacturers .

Faience was used in the parlance of the 16th to 19th centuries. Century also used the inaccurately used term "porceleyne" , which actually differs from the weakly sintered earthenware of faience due to the bright white, translucent, harder fired shards of kaolin clay .

Material and technology

Recipe book by the potter Daniel Herrmann for faience glazes (copy around 1861)

The raw material for faience is yellowish-gray or reddish to brownish burning clay. In order to cover the color of the body, come close to the white of the porcelain, to create a suitable painting base and to make the surface impermeable and insensitive to dirt, a glaze is applied: The shaped and leather-hard dried goods are first oven-run at around 800 to 900 ° C , the biscuit fire. An aqueous glaze paste made of tin oxide is applied to the then porous clay by dipping or pouring. The glaze that remains on the piece as a coating is melted in a second firing at around 1100 ° C. Before the glaze firing, after the still matt coating has dried, hot fire colors (limited to cobalt blue, copper green, antimony yellow, manganese violet, or brown and black due to the high temperatures) can be applied as colored samples. During the second firing ( Garbrand ) the glaze then melts at 900 to 1050 ° C to form a smooth white coating and the colors emerge brightly. After the second firing, muffle colors can be applied to the finished glazed pieces , which offer an expanded range of colors . The muffle colors are melted in a third light firing. Lacquer colors and gold are not fired ("cold painting").

Production, sales, branding

The factories were built on the basis of feudal or commercial capital. In this way, extensive structural and technical systems could be built in one go and a large number of technically specialized staff deployed. Among the Tonzubereitern, turners, modellers, moulders, Glasierern, painters and gilders, the workers in the clay pits and at the kiln were day laborers and henchmen .

The production method was based on series production, if not, as with tiles, even on mass-produced goods. Only the farm or local customers had the opportunity to make deliveries to order. They can be recognized by their coats of arms and inscriptions. The bulk of the products, however, was made for stock. Sales at markets and trade fairs required additional employees.

In contrast to silver and pewter , even to porcelain and earthenware , faiences do not generally and regularly have factory signatures . Signs and monograms drawn with a brush under the vessels only occasionally refer to the manufacturer's manufacture (e.g. Augsburg: pine cones - from the Augsburg coat of arms; Bayreuth : BK or BP ; Hannoversch Münden: CCC ; Wrisbergholzen: WR ; Cologne : anchor ; Schrezheim: box branch in arrow shape). Monograms are even rarer than painter's signatures . The low level of branding may be related to the fact that the manufactory's respective sales areas were extensive, but were only subject to moderate competitive pressure, especially when they were protected by privileges. Painter's signatures primarily served as proof of manufacture in-house.

History of faience in Europe

The Flood, faience tile tableau by
Masséot Abaquesne , around 1550, in the Renaissance Museum in the Écouen Castle
Delft faience pot with lid from the 18th century in the Marienburg

Pottery with colored lead glazes (without tin) made with techniques similar to faience has been around since the 4th millennium BC. BC, especially in Egyptian building ceramics (see Hippopotamus William , 2nd millennium BC). Real faience with tin glaze has only been around since 500 BC. Detectable in Mesopotamia and Persia, was used for pottery during Islamic times, in the 9th century, and spread via Persia to the Islamic regions of North Africa and Spain.


The Moorish products arrived in the 14th and 15th centuries through the trade center Mallorca to Italy, where the Renaissance an artistically remarkable own tradition with the here majolica was established called, technically identical ceramic. Alongside Urbino , Faenza was the most important production site for majolica.


After the Italian city of Faenza, the luxury ceramics imported from there were named faïence in France . Own production in the workshops of the 16th century is still determined by Italian craftsmen and influences. In the second half of the 17th century, French manufacturers (especially Nevers , Rouen , Marseille Lunéville and Moustiers ) developed specific characteristics. An exchange of patterns and motifs with German manufacturers can be observed throughout the 18th century.


Poland was an important center in Central and Eastern Europe. One of the best-known companies was a factory in Włocławek (Leslau). The first factory started operating here in 1873. Its founders were Zygmunt Kuhlfeld, Dawid Czamański, Izydor Szrejer and Bernard Boas. The first products were plates, bowls, kitchen containers, breakfast and lunch services as well as a wide range of faience galleries. Józef Teichfeld and Ludwik Asterblum became the new owners. In 1973 the name of the company was changed to "United Companies for Tableware". Part of the former faience factory continues to produce, another part has been converted into a modern apartment building and shopping and entertainment center Wzorcownia Włocławek.


A very unique development of the art of faience is visible in Portugal to this day: the tile art of the azulejos that adorn the interior and exterior of so many houses.


In the Netherlands, Italian craftsmen had established the faience technique as early as the 16th century. But it was only from the middle of the 17th century that the Delft faience, with its tiles and crockery produced in numerous workshops, had an enormous cultural and historical impact . The shapes and motifs of the blue and white porcelain imported from China (mostly Wanli style), which came to Holland with the East India Company in the 17th century , were popularized in Europe. Conversely, the Chinese and Japanese manufacturers adapted to the Dutch customers: They copied and painted in the Delft style. Hitherto unheard-of quantities of tiles from Delft and other workshops in the north of the Netherlands were sold in the economically prosperous country itself and in Germany and England. In these areas they were imitated again. In the 18th century, in addition to the blue, the other hot colors (red, yellow and green) were used again in Holland. The thirty or so factories not only produced everyday objects: tiles, jugs, bowls, baskets, bowls, flower vases, tulip stands, spittoons, as well as human and animal figures, as well as other showcase objects and table decorations. After the decline of most of the faience factories in the 19th century, Joost Thooft acquired an old pottery workshop in Delft in 1876 and persuaded a professor of decorative arts to collaborate - both succeeded in an artistic revival of the tradition. Your factory De Porceleyne Fles continues to produce today.


In Scandinavia, Rörstrand from Sweden became known. In Denmark, from 1722 to 1770, “Danske Fajancers” were made in the “Store Kongensgade Fajancefabrik” based on the model of “Delft faience”. This was managed by Johan Wolff until 1725 and by Johan Ernst from 1727–1749 Pfau and most recently by Christian Gierløf. In addition, Royal Copenhagen (again) produces faience alongside the finest porcelain.

History of faience in Germany

Depiction of a Frisian faience pottery with a kiln on several floors of the building as a tile tableau from 1737

In the German-speaking area, own faience prior to 1600 can only be found in isolated cases. Occasionally there were pottery workshops which, in addition to lead-glazed pottery, also produced pieces painted with pewter white. The situation changed fundamentally with the emergence of manufactories whose economic characteristics were division of labor, series production and a national sales market. Production in factories established itself as an economic form of the absolutist states of the 16th to 18th centuries due to the customs borders in fragmented Germany and mercantilism . Many manufactories were founded by a princely or were under princely protection. The sovereign supported the companies financially and materially by using the country's resources. He granted privileges by granting concessions. The sovereign supported the trade by facilitating customs duties. Its goal was to increase prosperity and increase tax revenue. By producing in his own country, the sovereign had the advantage of not having to purchase the coveted products at great expense abroad.

There were faience factories in around 80 locations in Germany. Most of them were small businesses with up to ten workers. The first German faience manufactory was founded in 1653 by Christoph Bernhard von Galen in Ahaus, Westphalia, near the Dutch border, but ceased in 1657. More important manufactories were established in Kassel (1680), Hanau (1661), Heusenstamm (1662), Frankfurt am Main (1666), Berlin (1678), Braunschweig (1707), Dresden (1708), Ansbach / Bruckberg (1709), Nuremberg (1712), Fulda (1741), Göggingen near Augsburg (1748), Bayreuth, Kelsterbach, Memmingen with the Künersberg faience , Schrezheim and Abtsbessingen .

Florsheim am Main reminds the local arms of which was founded in 1765 F lörsheimer F ayence F abrik.

Fish terrine, Fayencemanufaktur Schramberg, around 1920–1930

North German faience was particularly influenced by the factories in Kellinghusen , Stockelsdorf and Stralsund . Initially supported by Dutch skilled workers, the early factories produced imitations of Dutch products. Local peculiarities soon emerge, which allow the connoisseur to assign unmarked pieces to specific places of origin. Examples of this are the assignments of leaf green and purple: Magdeburg , paste blue glaze: Hanau, pear-shaped jugs: Durlach , excellent flower painting: Strasbourg . By the end of the 18th century at the latest, faience was no longer able to withstand the pressure of competition from higher-quality porcelain and cheaper stoneware , and most manufacturers either ceased to exist or switched to other ceramic products.

In the decades around 1900, artistic faience experienced a temporary second bloom. "Majolica manufactories" were newly founded and in the 1920s Max Laeuger and Bernhard Hoetger created remarkable works in this material. The prominent ceramists after the Second World War turned to harder flammable materials and the attraction of irregular glaze gradients.

History of faience in Lower Saxony

In the area of ​​southern Lower Saxony there were four production facilities in three locations over a period of about 150 years. Development began in Braunschweig in 1707 and ended with the closure of the last factory in Münden in 1854 . In northern and western Lower Saxony there was a production of faience in Jever, Wittmund and Osnabrück.


The first faience factory was founded in 1707 on the initiative of Duke Anton Ulrich . It was a small-scale craft business on Petritor, which was initially run by tenants. In 1758 the complex came under ducal administration. Soon economic difficulties due to competitive pressures and the importation of cheap English earthenware resulted in leasing to employees. In 1807 it was dissolved.

A second factory was founded in 1745 at Wendentor by an entrepreneur who was granted a ducal concession . It contained extensive privileges, such as tax exemption on buildings, free mining of clay and the waiver of export duties. The company probably ceased in 1757.


The manufacture in Münden was established in 1754 by Landdrost and Hanoverian captain Carl Friedrich von Hanstein (1700–1775). In 1755 King George II granted a concession for the production and sale of the products at home and abroad. Forerunner was since 1732 a company for the production of pottery outside the city on the Steinberg in the Kaufunger Forest , where it formed a commercial settlement with a brick factory , a coal mine and an alum boiler . Shortly before the Seven Years' War , faience production began on the Werra around 100 meters outside the Münden city fortifications . In 1788 38 men were employed. 128 people lived with their families from the faience production. The manufactory had branches in Bremen, Kassel, Fritzlar, Goslar, Mühlhausen, Nordhausen, among others. After the Kingdom of Hanover became part of the German Customs Union in 1854, the manufacture ceased operations, presumably because of the abolition of customs duties and the associated increased imports of English goods.

The building of the
faience factory Wrisbergholzen has hardly changed to this day

Wrisberg woods

In Wrisbergholzen founded Baron Johann Rudolph von Wrisberg 1736, the faience factory Wrisbergholzen . It was in production from 1737 to 1834 when the factory shutdown due to competition. The most outstanding example of their large-format tile production is the furnishing of the tile room in Wrisbergholzen Castle . 680 of the total of 800 blue and white tiles with emblematic motifs based on literary models from the 16th and 17th centuries come from the factory and completely cover the walls of the room.

Well-known faience manufacturers


  • Faience. In: Real Lexicon on German Art History . Volume 7: Paint, Colorants - Shutters. Beck, Munich 1981, ISBN 3-406-14007-6 , Sp. 876-905.
  • Henry-Pierre Fourest: Delftware Faience. Belser, Stuttgart et al. 1981, ISBN 3-7630-1756-9
  • Hela Schandelmaier: Lower Saxon faience. The Lower Saxony manufactories Braunschweig I and II, Hannoversch Münden, Wrisbergholzen (= faience. 1 = Kestner Museum Hannover. Collection catalog. 11). Kestner Museum, Hanover 1993, ISBN 3-924029-20-2 .
  • Eduard Fuchs , Paul Heiland : The German faience culture. 150 of the most beautiful German faiences . Munich: Langen, 1925

Web links

Commons : Faience  - collection of images, videos and audio files

See also

Individual evidence

  1. Hermann Salmang , Horst Scholze: Ceramics. Edited by Rainer Telle. 7th, completely revised and enlarged edition. Springer, Berlin et al. 2007, ISBN 978-3-540-63273-3 .
  2. ^ Aparthotel Lofty in Wloclawek
  3. IW Frohnenberg: Danske Fajancer. Historical meddelelser from the fajance factory in Denmark and Hertugdømmerne in the 18th speech . Copenhagen 1911.
  4. J. Frohnenberg: Danske Fajancer . In: Christian Blangstrup, Jens Braage Halvorsen (ed.): Salmonsens store illustrerede Konversationsleksikon. En nordisk Encyklopædi . 1st edition. tape 4 : Canadian River – Dase . Brødrene Salmonsen, Copenhagen 1895, p. 1097-1098 (Danish, rosekamp.dk [PDF]).