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www.Rigoulene.net | www.PaintInLimoges.com
|A word from our President:
On behalf of the Rigoulene team and family, I would like to introduce you to the Rigoulene
internships' adventure, and the world of Limoges' Porcelain Painting.
The project was born when, after ten years spent in the United States, I came back in 1994 to France and
more particularly to the Limousin region, in Limoges, where I was born and brought up.
Limoges is famous worldwide for it's porcelain. It is near Limoges that, during the 18th Century, kaolin was
found: kaolin brought to porcelain the "whiteness" and transparency to light that the Chinese knew of
centuries before, and that had been discovered in Saxony at the beginning of the 18th Century by the
"alchemist" Bottger. Following the discovery of kaolin, the region enjoyed a golden age. Our family was an
active participant in the expansion of the porcelain industry over the following two centuries. Each
generation, up to and including ours, has shared in this great adventure!
Today through our internships, our ambition is to share with others the art of painting on porcelain, together
with the history of Limoges porcelain.
The internships take place in an ancient manor, Rigoulene, which has been in our family for over 400
years. The painting teachers are of highest level, and we want our interns to get a feeling for the history of
the porcelain industry.
Life in Rigoulene is a six day experience, during which we share with our interns our passion, in a refined
setting, mixing work and leisure... A French way of life.
Laurence Bouchayer - President - "Les Amis de Rigoulene"
Limoges is famous worldwide for its porcelain. Let us start with a brief history
It is near Limoges that during the 18th century Kaolin was found: Kaolin this
pure white calcareous ground brought to porcelain the whiteness and
transparency to light that the Chinese knew of centuries before. In the 13th
century, Marco Polo discovers it during his travel to the Far East. He gives it
the name of Porcelain, even though this is the name of the “mother of pearl”
found on seashells. Thereafter plates star showing up on the tables of
Europe, replacing little by little the pieces of bread, on which meat was laid.
They are made of clay and precious metals from India and also beautiful
ceramic from China, brought back by travelers. A need is born.
In the 17th century, the British and the Dutch take over the trade and start
their famous East India Companies. In 1664, under Colbert, France starts its
own “Compagnie Francaise des Indes Orientales”. It imports thousands and
thousands of porcelain pieces from China, most of them table ware that are
bought by rich people. Europe tries to manufacture itself this wonderful
ceramic. But however hard he tries, it fells for lack of the one essential
component, the mysterious component: that seems to only be found in
china. If it cannot copy the Chinese Porcelain, Europe will try and get close
with a near porcelain called: Porcelain tendre (soft paste porcelain) made
without Kaolin. It is not a perfect substitute for the Chinese porcelain.
Nevertheless manufacturing takes place all over Europe, in Italy, France (St
Cloud, Chantilly, Vincennes, and the “Manufacture Royale de Sevres” setup
on the instigation of Madame de Pompadour). Search for Kaolin continued
all along. It is in Saxony that it is first found in the early 18th century; the
“Electeur de Saxe” setup in Meissen in a well-guarded mysterious fortress a
Royal Manufacture. Both the kaolin quarries and the manufacturing are
jealously kept hidden under threat of death. For the first time in Europe,
China’s secret has been penetrated and of course, Meissen’s secret
eventually seeped out.
In 1766, Kaolin is found near Saint Yriex in Limousin, France; it is the
“Eldorado”. Everybody digs and believes he has struck it rich. Everywhere,
people are searching, digging, sifting, washing… In Limoges,
Superintendent Turgot encourages the manufacturers, for he sees here a
source of prosperity for his region known to be pour.
On July 11th 1786, in a place called Marcognac, after a long and careful
search, François Alluaud, the kings geographical engineer (our Ancestor),
recently appointed manager of the floundering “ Conte d’Artois
Manufacture”, identified what seemed to be an abundant and accessible
supply of Kaolin. He starts here a new company. It flourishes; he eventually
passes on to his sons and it will stay in his family, our family, for 200 years.
During these years, we have been an active participant in the expansion of
the porcelain industry over the following two centuries.
porcelain [Ital. porcellana], white, hard, permanent,
nonporous pottery having translucence which is resonant when
struck. Porcelain was first made by the Chinese to withstand the
great heat generated in certain parts of their kilns. The two
natural substances used were kaolin, also known as china clay,
a white clay free of impurities that melts only at very high
temperature, and a feldspar mineral called petuntse that forms a
glassy cement, binding the vessel permanently. Although proto-
porcelain wares exist dating from the Shang, by the Eastern Han
high firing glazed ceramic wares had developed into porcelain,
and porcelain manufactured during the T'ang period (618–906)
was exported to the Islamic world where it was highly prized. The
ware was refined during the Sung period (960–1279). During
the Yuan period (1280–1368), blue and white ware was
produced by utilizing cobalt blue from the Middle East. The Ming
period (1368–1644) developed this blue and white ware but
used other colors as well. The Ch'ing period (1644–1912)
designed porcelain especially for export often utilizing Western
designs. In Europe porcelain was first commercially produced
(1710) in Meissen, Germany. Most of the European porcelain is
soft paste (made from clay and an artificial compound such as
ground glass) and is not as strong as the Chinese hard-paste
porcelain. Important European centers for porcelain are Bow,
Chelsea, Worcester, Staffordshire, Vienna, Meissen, Sèvres,
Limoges, and Rouen.
History, the beginning of Porcelain…
Jingdezhen, under a variety of names, has been central to
porcelain production in China since at least the early Han
Dynasty. Earliest techniques were very primitive, barely above
the level of standard pottery. By the time of the Southern and
Northern Dynasty period, however, techniques and materials
had been improved to the point that Jingdezhen clay was refined
The Sui and Tang Dynasties introduced high-temperature kilns,
resulting in pure, translucent whites, attractive to the eye, as well
as a variety of advanced glazing techniques. These
improvements produced smooth, durable porcelain ware. The
resulting product was often referred to as "false jade".