Chelsea Porcelain Factory Founded

Boucher, François. The Music Lesson. ca. 1765.

In the 18th century suburb of Chelsea, the Chelsea Porcelain Manufactory created some of the finest pieces of British porcelain. The factory, founded by Frenchmen Nicholas Sprimont and Charles Gouyn, catered to wealthy Londoners. Being founded by two Frenchmen is symbolic of the large French population in the area, as many Huguenots chose to settle in the city and specifically in that area. Chelsea China was produced at 16 Lawrence Street, Chelsea from 1745 to 1784. The area of Chelsea was a fashionable area, a trait that would continue for the area’s history. Notions of class and wealth have proved to be key areas of discussion for much of the area’s history, as even today there is notable wealth inequality.
The production of porcelain was divided into three periods, each with their own markings, but without changes to the production methods. As their porcelain has become even more important, these markings have become more notable as well. The earliest period used a triangle, the symbol for fire, and many subsequent symbols were of anchors. The factory worked to improve their soft-paste porcelain, making many important improvements to the technical aspects of production. Many aspects of the porcelain were inspired by Japanese work as well, and their products were often compared to those from Japan with praise. However, influences from the continent were still strongly felt, as different styles were adopted during the different periods of the factory’s work. Rococo design elements and fine gilding are seen in many fine examples of figures or scenes, while some pieces are finely sculpted animals created as depictions of loved pets.
Eventually, the factory was sold to William Duesbury of Durby in 1770, which started the “Chelsea-Derby” or “Derby-Chelsea” period of the factory’s production. Later, the factory moved, and many molds were destroyed in the process.

Boucher, François. The Music Lesson. ca. 1765. The Met. Accessed 18 April 2023.

“Chelsea Porcelain Manufactory: Finch: British, Chelsea.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Accessed 18 April 2023.
“Chelsea Porcelain Manufactory: The Music Lesson: British, Chelsea.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Accessed 18 April 2023.
“Chelsea Porcelain.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., Accessed 18 April 2023.
“Collections Online: British Museum.” Collections Online | British Museum, Accessed 18 April 2023.
A History of the French in London. Edited by Debra Kelly and Martyn Cornick, School of Advanced Study, 2013, Accessed 18 April 2023.
“Tobias Smollett: Novelist: Blue Plaques.” English Heritage, Accessed 18 April 2023.

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