Limoges porcelain came into being in 1771, thanks to the presence in the area of the necessary natural resources for its manufacture (water, granite minerals, kaolin, wood used as fuel) and the will of Intendant Turgot. The industry had its heyday and saw incredible artistic expansion in the 19th century with the advent of the first prestigious factories: Haviland, Guérin, Pouyat, Bernardaud, Tharaud, Alluaud, Lanternier, GDA…
Although the profession suffered from the impact of two World Wars, economic crises and international competition, it was able to survive by modernising its plants. Combining tradition and progress, the reputation of Limoges porcelain remains unrivalled to this day.
Limoges porcelain is still the chosen tableware of heads of state, kings, princes and ambassadors and the symbol of fine living at dining tables rich and humble all over the world.
Aside from the culinary arts, Limoges porcelain is a popular choice in various other sectors: electrical engineering, laboratory apparatus, bathrooms, home furnishings, funeral art and architecture. The covered market and City Hall fountain in Limoges both contain elements of porcelain.
Rare raw materials of exceptional quality are fired at extremely high temperatures (1,400 °C) to produce porcelain boasting exceptional qualities of durability, translucence and whiteness.
The hollow items are made by pouring a liquid paste into casts. A plastic cast is used for jiggering plates. These operations were originally carried out manually but have gradually been mechanised and automated. Nowadays, the manufacture of plates can even be carried out by isostatic pressing of a powder.
Porcelain is sold in its original state or is decorated using various processes, such as painting and transfer printing. The greatest artists of each era have experimented with the creation of shapes and designs.
Firing is the most delicate and uncertain stage in the process. The replacement of round wooden kilns by gas heated tunnels in the 1950’s enabled improvements in controlling the process.
In the lavish surroundings of the Adrien Dubouché National Porcelain Museum, discover more than 12,000 stoneware, earthenware, glass and porcelain items, tracing the history of ceramics from the first prehistoric vases through to the most contemporary creations.
Many retailers and manufacturers, including Haviland, Bernardaud, Royal Limoges and Médard display their heritage at specially created sites. The establishments of some manufacturers are open to the public.
A monumental porcelain kiln dating back to the end of the 19th century is open to visitors in the Casseaux quarter.