• Tokyo-Paris: Two LDMLs
Presentation organinzed by :
  • DNP
The Manufacture Nationale de Sèvres today
The Manufacture Nationale de Sèvres todayOn January 1, 2010, the Manufacture Nationale de Sèvres and the Musée National de la Céramique, two departments with a domestic jurisdiction of the Ministry of Culture and Communication, were transformed into a public administrative institution, Sèvres – Cité de la Céramique.

In Europe, the manufactory is the last production plant that combines the rationale of public service (transmitting expertise, preserving collections of studies, producing a heritage of forms and decorations, supporting contemporary design through a policy of artist invitations and residencies) with that of ceramic production in the field of applied arts (with its economic and commercial stakes). Dedicated to the preservation of savoir-faire and of a unique heritage—the legacy of over 250 years of history—and driven by the acknowledged commitment and professionalism of all of its production workshops, it has revitalized itself and got in tune with its era through the unprecedented number of invitations extended to artists, designers, and architects.

The museum, too, has exceptional potential, thanks to the richness of its collections (over 55,000 items). Its comprehensive overview of the history of ceramics makes it the top-ranking museum in its field globally. It merits better adapted spaces for its ambitious and varied cultural programming, and constitutes one of the assets of the site in terms of development, appeal, and influence.

The merging of the two has created the conditions for an ambitious project, that of an international center for ceramics with an appropriate status enabling it to exercise the responsibilities of production, preservation, management, promotion, training, research, enrichment, and development of the collections and the site.
Key dates
A soft-paste porcelain workshop was founded in Vincennes, in a tower of the royal château, during the reign of Louis XV and under the influence of Madame de Pompadour.
The sculpture was deliberately left in biscuit, unglazed and undecorated, so as to distinguish it from the polychrome sculpture of the Meissen manufactory in Saxony.
The manufactory was transferred to Sèvres into buildings constructed specially for it; they now house a department of the Ministry of Education.
Louis XV placed the manufactory under the complete control of the Crown. From then on, it had a Europe-wide influence in the field of porcelain production.
Two manufactory researchers, Pierre-Joseph Macquer and Robert Millot, discovered the first kaolin deposit on French soil near Limoges. Kaolin is an essential element of true porcelain, known as hard-paste porcelain, which was marketed from 1770.
The manufactory was managed until 1847 by the scientist Alexandre Brongniart—the son of the architect who designed the Bourse de Paris—who was behind its exceptionally rapid development. It was on his initiative that a collection was created in 1802. This led to the founding of the Musée de la Céramique, which brought together three collections: the original terra-cottas that served to produce the famous biscuit pieces in the 18th century, the classical vases purchased by Louis XVI from Dominique-Vivant Denon and given to the manufactory to serve as models, and the ceramics collected during the “Enquête des Préfets” of 1809 (each prefect in a France that encompassed Turin and Maastricht had to furnish examples of local ceramics).
The Musée Céramique et Vitrique was opened. It was the first museum devoted exclusively to ceramics and glassmaking, whose purpose was both educational and technical.
With the Third Republic, the manufactory and the museum were transferred to buildings constructed specially by the state on a four-hectare plot bordering the Parc de Saint-Cloud and joined to the town of Sèvres, which they still occupy today.
The activity of the manufactory revolved around international exhibitions such as the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1900, the Exposition des Arts Décoratifs in 1925, and the Exposition Internationale des Arts et des Techniques in 1937. In 1927, Georges Lechevallier-Chevignard, director from 1920 to 1938, obtained financial autonomy for the manufactory, while the museum was joined to the Musée du Louvre, in 1934.
Henry-Pierre Fourest, curator at the Musée National de la Céramique, was responsible for the rebirth of the museum; in addition to opening several rooms, he published the Cahiers de la Céramique and organised major exhibitions.
The activity of the manufactory embraced modernity, which permeated its entire production, under the directorship of Serge Gauthier.
The production of porcelain has joined forces with the most cutting-edge design of the 21st century. Throughout the manufactory’s history, artists and designers—from Boucher, Duplessis and Falconet in the 18th century; Carrier-Belleuse and Rodin in the 19th century, Ruhlmann in the 1930s, Calder and Poliakoff in the 1950s and 1960s, and Pierre Alechinsky, Zao Wou-ki, Jean-Luc Vilmouth, Louise Bourgeois, Fabrice Hyber, Yayoi Kusama, Ettore Sottsass, Pierre Soulages, and Pierre Charpin more recently—have added to the repertory of forms and decorations at Sèvres.

The museum collections have grown considerably, particularly with regards to the contemporary period, thanks to a new acquisisions policy.

Sèvres – Cité de la Céramique now employs, with its curatorial team, some 200 people, including 130 ceramists trained over a period of three years at the internal training center. They work in twenty-seven workshops, practice about thirty crafts and produce thousands of pieces each year. A quarter of the porcelain production goes to the senior branches of the civil service(Palais de l’Élysée, Hôtel Matignon, etc.); the rest is sold in two galleries in Sèvres and Paris.

Ceremonial set table at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sèvres porcelain Ceremonial set table at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sèvres porcelain
(C) Manolo Mylonas / Sèvres – Cité de la Céramique
Burnishing workshop Burnishing workshop
(C) Manolo Mylonas / Sèvres – Cité de la Céramique
Production building Production building
(C) Manolo Mylonas / Sèvres – Cité de la Céramique
Sèvres – Cité de la Céramique Sèvres – Cité de la Céramique
(C) Manolo Mylonas / Sèvres – Cité de la Céramique
Colors room Colors room
(C) Nicolas Héron / Sèvres – Cité de la Céramique
Magot reserve collection Magot reserve collection
(C) Nicolas Héron / Sèvres – Cité de la Céramique
Making porcelain paste using a mill Making porcelain paste using a mill
(C) Nicolas Héron /Sèvres – Cité de la Céramique
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