June 8, 2017, through August 12, 2018
The Frick Collection announces a new year-long installation in the Portico Gallery, Fired by Passion, inspired by the generous gift of fourteen pieces of Du Paquier porcelain made to the Frick in 2016 by Paul Sullivan and Trustee Melinda Martin Sullivan. The Sullivans are considered to have assembled the best collection of Du Paquier in private hands. The Du Paquier manufactory was established in Vienna in 1718 by Claudius Innocentius du Paquier, an entrepreneur and official at the Viennese Court, and was only the second manufactory in Europe to produce true porcelain, after the Royal Meissen Manufactory, outside Dresden. Although in operation for only twenty-five years, Du Paquier left an impressive body of inventive and often whimsical work, forging a distinct identity in the history of European porcelain production.
Fired by Passion presents forty tureens, drinking vessels, platters, and dishes, all produced at the Du Paquier manufactory between 1720 and 1740. The exhibition not only explores the early years of the Viennese manufactory and its rivalry with the Meissen manufactory, but also the characteristics of its unique production, highlighting the eclectic mix of references—many of them Asian—that inspired the porcelain’s designs and decorations. Splendid examples with coats of arms and heraldic symbols from commissions across Europe illustrates the manufactory’s success and influence beyond Vienna. Fired By Passion: Masterpieces of Du Paquier Porcelain from the Sullivan Collection is organized by Charlotte Vignon, Curator of Decorative Arts, The Frick Collection. Principal funding for the exhibition is provided by Fiduciary Trust Company International. Additional support is generously provided by Alfredo Reyes of Röbbig Munich and Anne K. Groves.
About The Du Paquier Manufactory
Porcelain had been manufactured in China since the seventh century but did not reach Europe with any regularity until the mid-sixteenth century, after the landing of Portuguese ships on the south coast of China in the early sixteenth century. Over the next two centuries, the only porcelain available in Europe was that which was imported from Asia. The formula for its production, or arcanum, remained unknown in Europe until 1708, when the German chemist Johann Friedrich Böttger produced true hard-paste porcelain by combining local clays containing kaolin (the essential white ingredient) with ground alabaster. The formula was strictly guarded by Böttger’s patron, Augustus II (Augustus the Strong), Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, who in 1710 founded the Royal Porcelain Manufactory in Dresden, the seat of the Saxon court. So determined was the king to keep the formula a secret that he relocated his factory to a secure cliff-top medieval castle, Albrechtsburg, in Meissen, later that year.
In 1717, Claudius Innocentius du Paquier, an agent in Vienna in the Imperial Council of War (a military ministry), decided he wanted to open a porcelain factory. Through his diplomatic connections, he was able to recruit several key employees from the Meissen manufactory: Christoph Conrad Hunger (or Unger), a porcelain painter; Just Friedrich Tiemann, an expert in fabricating kilns; and Samuel Stöltzel, the Meissen kiln master who had worked closely with Böttger since 1705 and who brought with him the recipe for porcelain paste. Du Paquier also succeeded in securing imperial protection: on May 27, 1718, Charles VI (the Holy Roman Emperor, King of Hungary, and Archduke of Austria) granted him a privilege, or exclusive right, to establish a porcelain manufactory in Vienna. The twenty-five year patent was for the manufacture of “all sorts of fine porcelain . . . such as are made in East India and other foreign countries.”
When the Du Paquier manufactory began production, about 1719, the Royal Meissen Manufactory, which had been in operation for almost a decade, exerted a strong influence. The flasks illustrated at left were derived from a model created by Meissen in 1711. The Viennese version is decorated with profile portraits of the imperial couple, Emperor Charles VI and his wife, Elisabeth Christine, copied from medals. They became the most common flasks produced by Du Paquier and were a popular diplomatic gift.
While the Du Paquier manufactory often took inspiration from Meissen and Asian porcelain, it also developed its own innovative decorative styles, forms, and techniques. A hallmark of the manufactory is its playful handles, knobs, and finials in the shape of animals or figurines. An exuberant ewer in the exhibition (right) features a handle in the shape of a panther (generally associated with Bacchus, the Roman god of wine) and an elaborately painted scene featuring the sea goddess Amphitrite, suggesting that the vessel was meant to serve both wine and water. This piece also illustrates perhaps the most characteristic feature of Du Paquier porcelain, its vivid painted decoration, in a palette dominated by rich purple and pink, iron-red, violet, blue, yellow, and several shades of green.
The Museum Shop of the Frick carries a sumptuously illustrated three-volume book published in 2009, by Arnoldsche Verlagsanstalt, entitled Fired by Passion. Vienna Baroque Porcelain of Claudius Innocentus Du Paquier, in which scholars of international standing led by Meredith Chilton and Claudia Lehner-Jobst present the distinctive style and the exciting history of Du Paquier porcelain in the context of Baroque Vienna. The first comprehensive publication on this important porcelain manufactory, this three-volume book was made possible by a five-year research program conducted by the Melinda and Paul Sullivan Foundation for the Decorative Arts. The objects illustrated, many of them for the first time, are in major public and private collections. Fired by Passion ($200, member price $180, 1,432 pages, hardcover) is available in both English and German editions and can also be ordered through the Frick’s Web site (frick.org) or by phone at 212.547.6848.
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