The type of soft-paste porcelain produced in France in the 18th century is known as Chantilly porcelain and was produced by the factories of Chantilly in Oise between 1730 and 1800.
The founder of the factory, Louis Henri de Bourbon, the Prince de Condé, was exiled from France after he failed as Louis XV’s chief minister. During this period, the prince was one of several aristocrats involved in financing and supporting the search for a recipe to produce porcelains similar to those from Japan and China.
Although porcelain manufacturing was widespread in the 18th century, factories needed a great deal of initial capital and so generally required the investment of an aristocratic patron. The wares of Chantilly consisted of pieces from the prince’s substantial collection, and the factory intended to compete with the pioneer porcelain manufacturers in France, Saint-Cloud porcelain. The designs of Chantilly porcelain can be divided into three major periods.
The first period is marked by the composition of designs imitating the Chinese and Japanese style and a unique milk-white tin glaze. Chantilly’s first decade produced designs that were influenced by Arita porcelain and are characterized by a palette of soft iron red and blue-green colors. Decorative figures and vases were produced, as well as plates and cups, rococo teapots, and coffee sets covered with small flower bouquets, formal scrolls, and plants.
Also produced were knife handles and chandeliers with similarly designed decorations. In 1735, the factory was granted a patent by Louis XV that gave the right to the Chantilly porcelain factory to make porcelain façon de Japon. Most of the work was covered with clean white opaque tin-glaze at the beginning, though later a yellowish lead glaze was used.
Prince Louis Henri de Bourbon died in 1740, and after his death, the factory was forced to support itself without his patronage. Until the factory manager died in 1751, the Chantilly porcelain factory produced remarkable pieces that were valued by collectors in the 19th century.
In the later two periods, designs became more traditional than they had been on earlier pieces. The intermediate period (1751-1760) was marked by a patent of 1752 granting the monopoly to Vincennes of polychrome decors. The third, late period lasted from 1760 to 1800.