A Vienna Miniature Porcelain Cup and Saucer c.1900, the cup gilded inside, decorated with a central cartouche with finely hand-painted rural scene on puce ground and gilt.
Dimensions: cup 4.5cm diam x 2.5cm high, saucer 7cm diam. Marks:banded shield mark in underglaze blue.
For centuries, traders from the Far East supplied the voracious European demand for porcelain wares. These items were so prized, that many efforts were made to find out just what was the secret recipe for making this precious "white gold". From 1701, systematic experiments were made at the behest of Augustus the Strong, Elector of Saxony. Finally in 1709, alchemist Johann Friedrich Böttger discovered the method for creating porcelain in Dresden and Europe's first porcelain factory was founded in nearby Meissen. Unfortunately Böttger's reward for his important discovery was lengthy incarceration. Yet despite the threat of death for revealing the complicated methods of porcelain production, eventually the zealously guarded secret made its way to other European cities across the continent.
With the aid of runaway workmen from Meissen, a Dutchman Claudius Innocentius du Paquier, established porcelain manufacture in Vienna in 1719. For nearly twenty-five years, Du Paquier was the only rival of Meissen in Europe, able to make true porcelain in the manner of the Chinese. For his efforts Emperor Charles VI rewarded Du Paquier by giving him an exclusive patent to manufacture "All sorts of fine porcelain...such as are made in East India and other foreign countries, with far more beautiful colors, decoration, and forms with the help of local workmen and materials.
After a succession of different directors, Conrad Sörgel von Sorgenthal took over the direction in 1784 and managed it until his death in 1804. Under his management Vienna manufacture achieved an international reputation for its neo-classical style. Unparalleled ornamentation in gilded relief work and masterful quality of painting made Vienna manufacture products overshadow all other European porcelain.