Imperial Porcelain Factory

The history

In 2019, the Imperial Porcelain Factory is celebrating its 275th anniversary.

The factory that initiated ‘the porcelain business’ in Russia was established in 1744 by the decree of Empress Elizaveta Petrovna (1709-1761) on the Shlisselburg Highway in St. Petersburg. Originally, it was called "Court Neva Porcelain Manufactory". With the enthronement of Empress Catherine II (1762-1796), the manufactory received the name "Imperial Porcelain Factory" (1765), which existed until 1890 - the time of amalgamation with the Imperial Glass Factory. The name Imperial Porcelain and Glass Factory remained unchanged until 1917.

The Imperial Porcelain Factory was one of the oldest enterprises in Europe, the third in time to appear after Meissen (1710) and Vienna (1718) porcelain manufactories.

Similar to Meissen and Vienna porcelain manufactories, Manufacture nationale de Sèvres and Berlin porcelain manufactory that all belonged to the royal families, the Imperial Porcelain Factory was subordinated to His Imperial Majesty's Cabinet. It produced ceremonial sets, vases, various utensils for the Highest Court and unique gift items. Throughout the 18th and early 20th centuries, the factory production set the pattern for private porcelain enterprises in Russia. Masters and technologists of the highest level worked there, new artistic styles were developed, and the most important historical events were ‘imprinted’. The highest artistic level of the products was also determined by cooperation of the enterprise with the leading sculptors, architects and painters of the time. They were Jean Dominique Rachette, Count Fyodor Petrovich Tolstoy, Stepan Pimenow, Fedor Solntsev, Ippolit Monighetti, baron Rausch von Traubenberg von Traubenberg, Konstantin Krasovsky, Konstantin Somov and others.

In 1918, the Imperial Porcelain Factory was nationalized and renamed the State Porcelain Factory. In 1925, in honor of the 200th anniversary of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the enterprise was named after Mikhail Lomonosov (“Leningrad Porcelain Factory named after Mikhail Lomonosov”). The factory was subordinated to the People's Commissariat of Education. It was decided to concentrate the creative experimental and research work there, to establish scientific and artistic enterprise that would contribute to the development of the glass and ceramic art industry in Russia. The plant developed the production of industrial chemical and technical porcelain. Optical glass was produced for the first time ever.

At the same time, the Leningrad Porcelain Factory became a creative laboratory for the Soviet artisans, whose production reflected the tendencies of the dominant viewpoints and styles during the period of 1920’s-1980’s. Thus, the ‘agitation porcelain’ of the 1920’s. became one of the brightest and recognized pages of the 20th century art. Art objects reflected the heat of revolutionary passions during the civil war and the first years of the Soviet state establishment. The Leningrad Porcelain Factory was the first enterprise in Russia that in 1968 managed to produce objects of the highest whiteness and subtlety of the so-called bone thin-walled china. The specialists received the State Prize of the USSR for this work.

In 2005, the historical name of the factory was restored. The Imperial porcelain factory produces about four thousand titles of highly artistic designer items from solid and bone china, including a variety of sets, genre and animalistic sculpture, decorative dishes, presentation government gifts and prizes for major competitions and festivals under the brand name "Imperial Porcelain".