Royal Porcelain Manufactory Berlin
Königliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Berlin GmbH
Jörg Woltmann (owner),
Martina Hacker (Managing Director)
|Number of employees||200 (2017)|
|sales||12 million euros (2017)|
|Branch||Porcelain, glass, ceramics|
The Königliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Berlin ( KPM ) was founded on September 19, 1763 by Frederick the Great and has been based in Berlin since the year it was founded . The company logo today is only the cobalt blue scepter from the Kurbrandenburg coat of arms, without any further additions, with which each individual porcelain is provided. All decorated porcelain from KPM are also hand-signed and marked with a painting mark. Even today, KPM is still a manufactory that produces all porcelains, service and figurative porcelains, almost exclusively by hand, and the decorations using free hand painting. In 2016 she founded theFoundation Royal Porcelain Manufactory Berlin .
The first establishment of a porcelain manufacture in Berlin goes back to the Berlin merchant and wool manufacturer Wilhelm Caspar Wegely . In 1751 he received the royal privilege from Frederick the Great to set up a porcelain factory in Berlin. In addition, the king merchant Wegely granted duty-free for the import of the necessary raw materials and assured him the exclusion of any competition.
The modeller Ernst Heinrich Reichard , whom Wegely was able to win for his manufacture in 1753 , set artistic accents . He mainly designed figurative porcelain such as putti , allegorical representations, cavaliers and gallant ladies in the Rococo style . However, technical difficulties and the Seven Years War forced Wegely to give up after just a few years. In 1757 he sold the inventory, tools and materials to the Berlin merchant Johann Ernst Gotzkowsky .
In 1761, at the request of Frederick the Great, Gotzkowsky acquired and expanded the porcelain manufacture that Wegely had taken over. He signed a contract with Wegely's master model Ernst Heinrich Reichard, who was in possession of the Arkanum - the secret recipe for the production of porcelain - Reichard sold him the Arcanum for 4,000 Reichstaler and for a further 3,000 the porcelain supply and other materials. In addition, Reichard committed to work at Gotzkowsky as an arcanist and department head. His eight employees were also taken on.
Gotzkowsky, valued and encouraged as an entrepreneur by the Prussian king, succeeded in luring away important artists and employees of the Meissen porcelain factory in Saxony, which was occupied by Prussian troops . For example, Gotzkowsky hired a Klassung student, Friedrich Elias Meyer from Meißen, as master modeler and Carl Wilhelm Boehme as head of porcelain painting. Johann Georg Grieninger was appointed as the first director . With these skilled workers, a high-performance porcelain factory was established at Leipziger Strasse 4 in Berlin in just a few months. Nevertheless, Gotzkowsky also got into financial difficulties. Since no support was expected from the royal side due to the high burdens on the state budget due to the Seven Years' War, Gotzkowsky was finally forced to stop production in 1763.
The signed porcelains with the trademarks W and G from the early days under Wegely and Gotzkowsky are extremely rare and coveted collector's items today.
On September 19, 1763, Frederick the Great acquired the now well-established company for 225,000 Prussian Reichstalers . On the one hand, he wanted to save the respected Berlin businessman from imminent bankruptcy; on the other hand, it was important to him to save the young company that was close to his heart from premature end. The actual success story of the now Royal Porcelain Manufactory Berlin began with the takeover of the manufactory by Frederick the Great .
The king took over the entire staff of 146 employees and gave the manufacture its name and trademark: the royal scepter from the coat of arms of the Elector of Brandenburg. From now on it was called Königliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Berlin and became a model company: the employees had fixed, regular working hours, received an above-average income, were covered by their own company health insurance and acquired a secure pension entitlement. In addition, there was no child labor at the Königliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Berlin . Provisions have also been made to provide for surviving widows and orphans . In the years that followed, the manufacturing process was streamlined and the techniques perfected.
One of the manufactory's most important clients was Frederick the Great himself, who jokingly called himself his “best customer”. From 1763 until his death in 1786, the king ordered porcelain from KPM to the value of 200,000 Reichstalers. For his castles alone, he commissioned 21 dinner services. These services usually had 36 place settings and consisted of up to 500 individual parts as well as ornate figurative centerpieces. Their design and color scheme were tailored to the interior of the rooms for which they were intended. The first table service that Friedrich ordered for the New Palace in Potsdam in 1765 was the relief decoration service . The new ornamentation in the Rococo style came from the master model Friedrich Elias Meyer, who was later to design other services for the king. The ornamentation of the relief made of gilded rocailles and flower trellises found their counterpart in the stucco ceiling of the New Palace. In the following years the services Neuglatt , Antique Zierat (later called Rocaille ) and Neuosier, which are still produced today, were created .
In 1784, after four years of development work, a new shade called Bleu mourant (“dying blue”) was created. With him, Friedrich's wish was fulfilled to transfer the delicate blue he valued, which also prevailed in his private rooms in Sanssouci Palace, to his favorite service, Neuzierat . As the owner of the KPM, the king specifically used white gold as a means of diplomacy. His state gifts often came from the factory and were found in the Russian Tsarist house as well as on the tables of the leading European royal houses.
Under Friedrich's successor, his nephew Friedrich Wilhelm II , the manufactory became a technologically leading company in Prussia. The new king also ordered porcelain from KPM and had the claims offset against his claim to profit. The business went steadily upwards: From 1787 the average net profit per year was more than 40,000 thalers.
The playful forms of the Rococo gave way to the clear lines of classicism .
In 1790 Peter von Biron , Duke of Kurland , placed the order with the Berlin manufactory for a four-piece dinner service. The classicist design was provided by Johann Karl Friedrich Riese (* 1759), who has been with KPM since 1770 and here from 1789 model master. The dinner service, later known as Kurland , is still produced today. It is considered the manufactory's best-known and most popular service, and with 87 individual parts it is also the most extensive.
Famous artists of the time such as Karl Friedrich Schinkel , Johann Gottfried Schadow and his student Christian Daniel Rauch designed vases and sculptures for KPM, of which the group of princesses is one of the most famous, based on a design by Johann Gottfried Schadow. The KPM had a monopoly on porcelain production in Prussia until 1810. The products of the manufactory continued to play an important role in the gift system of the court. In addition to being used as a diplomatic gift - this includes the dinner service for Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington 1817–1819 - the porcelain was also given to loyal followers of the monarch. The service for Lieutenant General of the Cavalry Diedrich Goswin von Bockum-Dolffs belongs to the latter group .
In the first half of the 19th century, KPM was a leader among the large European manufacturers in the production of view or vedute porcelain. One of the most important vedute painters was Carl Daniel Freydanck , who designed a series of the most beautiful views of Berlin and Potsdam under the direction of Georg Frick , the director of the manufacture since 1832 . As royal gifts, the vases and services decorated with them shaped the image of the new Berlin at the European royal courts. Vedute painting based on historical models is still practiced in the KPM's porcelain painting workshop today.
In 1867 Ferdinand Hermann Gustav Möller appointed acting head and 1868 as director of the Royal Porcelain Factory in Berlin, for which he at the new site, which was fully operational in 1872, in the Wegelystraße am Tiergarten, composed of architects Emil Boethke constructing new buildings let; after the manufacture on Leipziger Strasse had to give way to the construction of the Prussian state parliament. Due to its location on the Spree, the new location of the new building, which cost 360,000 talers, was now also accessible by ship for the transport of raw materials and finished products.
In terms of technology, KPM had always done pioneering work for the ceramic industry. This is particularly true of the late 19th century, which was characterized by inventions and technical progress. A chemical-technical research institute had been attached to the manufacture since 1878. Its director, Hermann August Seger , brought about numerous innovations that significantly expanded KPM's repertoire of shapes and colors. 1880 developed a new type of soft Seger porcelain that bears his name Seger porcelain . Inspired by Chinese ceramics, new colored glazes such as ox blood , celadon, crystal and running glazes were created. They allowed new forms of artistic expression and made Seger an early pioneer of Art Nouveau. The research institute dealt with the further development and research of innovations in the field of ceramics . In 1899, for example, a porcelain mass was produced that made it possible to model in it instead of initially in clay in order to preserve the charm of the original artistic work of the fired piece.
In 1886, Professor Alexander Kips was appointed artistic director of the Berlin porcelain factory. His successor Theo Schmuz-Baudiß , who was appointed artistic director of the manufactory in 1908, promoted the use of underglaze decorations and developed new forms. This brought the KPM great recognition at international art exhibitions.
The wedding procession of the sculptor Adolph Amberg is one of the most important Art Nouveau porcelains in Berlin . For the marriage of Crown Prince Wilhelm of Prussia to Cecilie von Mecklenburg-Schwerin in 1904, he designed a multi-part figurative centerpiece made of silver. However, this was not carried out because the court found the draft, in particular the depiction of the bride as naked Europe on the bull, too revealing. Schmuz-Baudiß recognized the artistic importance of the design and had it implemented in porcelain in 1908. In 1910, the KPM's wedding procession was awarded a gold medal at the World Exhibition in Brussels.
With the end of the monarchy in 1918, KPM became the State Porcelain Manufactory Berlin. The KPM signet and the scepter mark were retained.
Bauhaus and the New Objectivity
In 1925 Nicola Moufang came to Berlin. Here he was artistic director of the State Porcelain Manufactory in Berlin until 1929 . Charles Crodel had started painting in the factory in Halle in 1928. Under their new director Günther von Pechmann , the ideas of the Deutscher Werkbund and the Bauhaus influenced the artistic work of the Berlin manufactory from 1929 onwards. The aim was the contemporary, functional design of the porcelain. Contemporary artists such as Gerhard Marcks , Marguerite Friedlaender and Trude Petri gave porcelain design a modern face. Famous designs from this period are the Urbino dinner service by Trude Petri and the Halle vases by Marguerite Friedlaender that were created in cooperation with the Burg Giebichenstein University of Art and Design in Halle.
The takeover of power by the National Socialists in the 1930s had serious consequences for many KPM artists: Marguerite Friedlaender was forced to emigrate because of her Jewish origins. Ludwig Gies and Gerhard Marcks were dismissed from their teaching posts because of their loyalty to their Jewish colleagues and were banned from exhibiting. The art pedagogue, painter and writer Gerhard Gollwitzer , who was also dismissed from his teaching post, became artistic director of KPM in 1941.
During the Second World War , the manufactory was so badly damaged by air raids on the night of November 22nd to 23rd, 1943 that production had to be stopped. Work in the mass mill was resumed in December 1943, and emergency operations in the factory in January 1944.
After the Second World War, the KPM moved into alternative quarters in Selb . From Franconia, she continued to supply the market with decorative and everyday porcelain. In 1957, production moved back to the historic KPM site in Berlin-Tiergarten after the buildings there had been rebuilt.
By resolution of the Senate, KPM became a limited liability company in 1988 and henceforth traded as KPM Königliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Berlin GmbH. In the 1990s, KPM began to think more strongly about the manufactory's cultural and handicraft traditions. After the great success of a vase collection, KPM presented the Service Berlin, which was created in collaboration with the Italian designer Enzo Mari , in 1996 .
In the period from 1998 to 2003, the entire KPM quarter at Berlin's Tiergarten was reconstructed by the architects von Gerkan, Marg and Partner from the point of view of monument preservation . At the same time, the production technology was brought up to date.
After several attempts at privatization, the Berlin banker Jörg Woltmann took over the Königliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Berlin as sole shareholder in February 2006. In the same year KPM opened its newly designed sales gallery in the historic ring chamber furnace hall. KPM operates other stores of its own in Berlin, Potsdam, Hamburg and Cologne. In 2007, the manufactory opened the KPM World Experience Exhibition in the KPM Quartier with a permanent exhibition on history and contemporary artisanal porcelain production.
Recently, collaborations with luxury brands such as Bottega Veneta and Bugatti Automobiles have opened up new avenues. In 2011, in collaboration with Bugatti, KPM designed applications and interior details made of porcelain as well as a cobalt blue line decoration for a Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport "L'Or Blanc". In 2012 a Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport “Wei Long” was created with dragon motifs, also implemented in porcelain.
To mark the 250th anniversary of KPM in 2013, three major Berlin exhibitions showed KPM porcelain art from two and a half centuries. The Bröhan Museum presented under the title fancy decor KPM porcelain between Art Nouveau and Art Deco . In the Charlottenburg Palace of the Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation Berlin-Brandenburg , the exhibition KPM - Design, Use, Collect was on view. In the KPM world, the special exhibition Königliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Berlin 1763-2013 with 300 works of porcelain art from 18 private collections gave an overview of all creative periods of the manufactory.
Since 2014 the porcelain currywurst bowl has been a well-selling product with 10,000 pieces per year.
In 2016 the Foundation Königliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Berlin was founded, which is mainly responsible for the "art and culture as well as the further development in science and research of the KPM Berlin cultural asset". The foundation's board members are Jörg Woltmann , André Schmitz and Ulrich Maas .
In 2017, the production of laboratory porcelain, which had been discontinued at the turn of the millennium, was continued: Chief designer Thomas Wenzel developed the so-called LAB Berlin series , which can be recognized by the chrome-green stamp and the "BERLIN" logo.
In 2019, the KPM Hotel & Residences was opened in the immediate vicinity of the production facility .
When Frederick the Great took over the manufacture on September 19, 1763 from the Berlin merchant Johann Ernst Gotzkowsky, he granted the company the privilege of a royal manufacture as well as the cobalt blue scepter from the coat of arms of the Elector of Brandenburg as a trademark. The marking of the porcelains takes place between incandescent firing and before glazing. Before the scepter mark with blue underglaze color is applied to the porcelain part, it is checked whether it meets the strict quality requirements of the manufactory. Then the porcelain is glazed and fired again. The cobalt color of the scepter is inseparable from the glaze. Porcelains of the second sort are marked with a sanding line on the scepter and are generally not painted.
In order to better protect the brand from imitations, the trademark has been changed again and again. In the years when production was outsourced to Selb from 1944 to 1957, an S was added to the scepter. The current brand shows the blue scepter and below it the letters KPM.
Since 1803, decorated porcelain has also been marked with a painting's mark. It confirms the authenticity of the painting. Today this stamp in the form of an imperial apple is usually placed next to the scepter mark. Depending on the type of decoration, the painting signet is applied in different colors.
A red orb denotes porcelains with floral paintings. But colored figures and landscape paintings also receive the red stamp. The imperial orb is stamped in green when porcelain pieces are decorated without flower painting, for example with a gold or platinum edge, flat color decorations or monograms. An imperial orb in blue refers to decors that were executed with sharp fire colors. These colors are fired at a very high temperature, sink into the melting glaze and are dishwasher-safe.
At KPM, all decors are hand-painted. The porcelain painters can freely interpret the motifs - such as flowers or landscape paintings - within the specifications of the respective decor. At the end, the painter puts his signature on the base of the porcelain part he has decorated. It identifies the painting as unique. Every painter has his own personal logo. In addition, digits identify the different painting decors.
In the course of its history, KPM has produced a variety of service forms, figural porcelain, pipe bowls and lithophanes . Today the manufactory draws from a constantly growing repertoire of more than 150,000 shapes. Some of them have been produced unchanged since the manufacture was founded 250 years ago.
The ten current KPM services include three rococo shapes that were commissioned by Frederick the Great for his castles ( Rocaille , Neuzierat and Neuosier ), but also designs from the epochs of Classicism, Art Nouveau, Bauhaus and the presence:
- For the Wroclaw City Palace (decor no.64), KPM model master Friedrich Elias Meyer designed the Antique Zierat shape in 1767 ( renamed Rocaille under Friedrich Wilhelm IV ). The flag is surrounded by an antique bundle of rods, which are adjoined on the inside by three-dimensional rocailles and four fields with flower ornaments. Four ribs each run from the four fields to the mirror of the plate. At the King's request, the service for the Wroclaw City Palace was painted “with gilded antique ornaments and blue mosaics” and “with natural flowers and garlands”. For the Potsdam City Palace , Friedrich ordered the same shape with yellow margins without a scale pattern. At the state banquets of the Federal President in Bellevue Palace , the table is set with rocaille, decorated with a gold rim and a golden eagle coat of arms.
- The relief decoration service was designed for the New Palace in Potsdam in 1765 . Two years later, the Neuzierat service followed , which was Frederick the Great's favorite service . In this design, leaf tendrils surround the rods and rocailles in a balanced relationship to the smooth surfaces. The service became famous for its floral decoration, which has remained unchanged since 1784, in the delicate blue shade of Bleu mourant (dying blue), which Frederick the Great valued.
- The Neuosier design from 1770, inspired by the French osier (wickerwork), is characterized by the relief, which is modeled on a woven basket. The vessel walls and plate surfaces are structured by curved ribs. The handles of the jugs and cups as well as the handles of the terrines and ragouts are modeled on branches. Elaborately decorated with flower bouquets and a golden edge of leaves, Neuosier was made in 1780 for Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm II . After he took office, it was used on the court table at Sanssouci Palace.
- The Kurland shape , designed by Johann Karl Friedrich Riese around 1790 , was commissioned by Peter Biron, Duke of Kurland, for a table service in the classical style. The service with antique canthe, which was renamed Courland in honor of its client in the 19th century, is one of the most extensive and successful services of KPM with more than 70 pieces. English silver served as a design model for the relief with antique drapery hangings, egg sticks and a pearl rim. On the occasion of the 250th anniversary of KPM, two new versions of the KPM classic were created in 2013: The relief edge of the Kurland Blanc Nouveau service is made of bisque porcelain. In the decorated version, Kurland Royal Noir, it was given a black background and staffage made of 24-carat polished gold. In keeping with the spirit of the times, the Kurland service is also constantly updated. In 2015, for example, a latte macchiato cup and a French fries / currywurst bowl were presented, making the previously exclusive service "roadworthy".
- The Ceres form, designed by Theodor Schmuz-Baudiß in 1912 for the 150th anniversary of KPM and still in production today, pays homage to the opulence of late Art Nouveau. Cornucopia with fruits and ears of corn form the rich, imaginative relief decoration. Today the active offer of the KPM mainly consists of the elaborate centerpiece, since many forms are no longer available due to the war destruction.
- The Urbino , Arkadia and Feldblume on board shapes designed by Trude Petri were successful services of the 1930s . For the Urbino dinner service, created in 1931 in the New Objectivity style , she was awarded the Grand Prix at the Paris World Exhibition in 1937 . The functionality of the design, which is based on circular and spherical shapes, is exemplified in the terrine: the lid can also be used as a bowl. As a modern classic, Urbino was added to the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It is still one of KPM's best-selling services.
- The Arkadia service from 1938 (originally only as a tea service) , created to mark the 175th anniversary of KPM, and the field flower relief on board from 1940 are based on the formal language of the New Objectivity. For the clear Arkadia shape developed by Trude Petris, Siegmund Schütz was inspired by Greek mythology to create relief medallions that tell the story of the dreamland Arcadia . For the same basic shape, Gerhard Gollwitzer created the field flower relief on board two years later , a relief decoration made of grass, meadow flowers and insects. Since 1990 the Arkadia shape has been offered under the name Urania without relief decoration.
- In 1996, the KPM workshop worked together with the Italian designer Enzo Mari to create the Serviceform Berlin , which won the iF Design Award in 1998. With their concave and convex plate rims, the plates and bowls placed on top of one another show the shape of an opening flower. The individual components of the service can be combined in many ways and used in a variety of ways.
In the KPM master workshop, figural porcelains of different styles have been created over the past 250 years.
A highlight of Berlin porcelain art in classicism is the group of princesses created in 1796 based on a design by Johann Gottfried Schadow. The statue, created in 1795 on the occasion of a royal double wedding, is considered a major work of the style epoch. It shows Luise von Mecklenburg-Strelitz , the wife of the Crown Prince and later King Friedrich Wilhelm III. , and her younger sister Friederike, who married his brother Ludwig.
Animal sculptures have played an important role in the history of KPM from the very beginning. In the Rococo, the staged play of light and shadow and naturalistic staffage make them appear as artistic images of nature. The numerous bird figures still include designs from the early days of the manufacture, such as the bright blue and turquoise kingfisher by Giovanni Battista Pedrozzi from 1765. In the 1920s, Tommi Parzinger designed humorous dog and rabbit figures in the style for KPM of Art Deco. The current animal sculptures include designs such as the polar bear Knut , buddy bear miniatures and hippos ( crumple ). In the area of figurative sculpture, various editions of the designer Art Toys + Eye were created in cooperation with the Berlin art toy designer André Fischer.
Important artists of all styles have designed vases for KPM. Many of them have become timeless classics. On Karl Friedrich Schinkel several vases designs from the period of classicism among others, the 1818 resulting vase trumpet shape or spill vase can be traced back, from around 1820th
The Halle vases by Bauhaus ceramist Marguerite Friedlaender from 1931, in collaboration with the Burg Giebichenstein School of Applied Arts, follow the ideal of pure form . She created seven clearly proportioned vases from the basic ellipses and cones. One of them was added to the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The symbiosis of form and function required by the Bauhaus can also be found in numerous vase designs by Trude Petri , who worked as a designer for KPM from 1930 to 1968. The rectangular Cadre vase she created in 1967 refers to a tea box she also created in 1930 for the Urbino service.
Since 1984, more than 400 memorial plaques exclusively manufactured by KPM and each costing 3400 euros have shaped the public streetscape of Berlin. The company also produced porcelain lamps for a time.
KPM isolators at the Berlin radio tower
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