History of Imperial (Lomonosov) Porcelain - 11

In the late 18th century the Imperial (Lomonosov) Porcelain Factory owes its great success to Empress Catherine the Great herself. Right before her coronation in Moscow, Catherine ordered the best porcelain items for the ceremony. She also offered these items to the public who came for the coronation. This was the first introduction of the Factory to the country wide market.

In 1763 Catherine visited the Factory herself choosing 29 snuff boxes for larger production. After this legendary visit Catherine ordered Lieutenant Alexander Shepotiev to bring the declining production to a proper level. Shepotiev focused on re-staffing the factory with chemists, artists and craftsmen. He implemented a system of bonuses for the workers. He also created a school for the children of the factory employees where they learned reading, writing and mathematics. Later children who showed inclination towards painting were selected and taught further by a mentor. Shepotiev hired a number of talented foreign artists, for example, Arnoult and Rachette. Overall, Shepotiev managed to double factory production.

His fine work was continued by Prince Vyasemski, who became the head of the factory after Shepotiev left in 1793. Vyasemski improved the administrative management of the factory. Now each department of the factory had a head master who was responsible for the inventory, supplies and results of the production. The prince also improved equipment and buildings, bought new land for the factory. Vyasemski hired a number of professional European artists to advance the quality of the produced items. Lastly, the production and sale doubled again from the Shepotiev period. In 1792 Vyasemski became sick and Prince Yusupov replaced him as the head of the factory.
During Vyasemski period, the factory was divided into five segments. Machinery department processed and prepared porcelain material. Modeling segment dealt with sculptural part of production. Then followed the oven area where all the items were baked. Later the artists from the painting department decorated the items. Lastly, the laboratory prepared paint. Muffles for already painted items were also located in the laboratory.

It is also important to note that Catherine financed the factory from the Cabinet funds through various subsidies and annual payments. Later during the Vyasemski period the factory was financed from a different governmental agency, Berg Collegium. Thus, the Imperial Porcelain Factory obtained a status of a governmental importance and not just Catherine the Great’s personal interest. Overall, during the reign of Catherine the Great a declining production of the factory grew tremendously. The factory was introduced to the country wide market. The factory items also became known among the world’s royal families. These accomplishments occurred because of the personal interest of the Empress and due to the great talents of the managers of the Imperial Porcelain Factory.
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