Augarten Porzellan - Part II:
Vienna′s Finest Porcelain Manufactory
The decorations became simpler again with neo-Classicism towards the end of the 18th century: Plain lines, geometric shapes and references to the images of antiquity but without the playfulness of Baroque or Rococo styles is typical for the time when Conrad Sörgel of Sorgenthal was the head of the manufactory. In the course of the Napoleonic Wars around 1805, the Augarten Porzellan almost went bankrupt. Only with the Vienna congress in 1814 and its innumerable balls and receptions, the need for porcelain suddenly rocketed away.
In the years that followed the Vienna Congress, Austria recovered economically and developed a wealthy upper-middle-class. This new aristocracy wanted to copy the representational manners that the court had and the Augarten Porcelain became hugely successful. The designs became more floral and mass-friendly. With the rise of cheap porcelain manufactories mostly in Bohemia, the Augarten Porzellan got under economic pressure in the second half of the 19th century. In 1864, the manufactory was finally closed down.
Ironically, after the Empire had collapsed as a result of WWI, Austrians remembered the traditional brand. In 1923, a porcelain manufactory was opened at Palais Augarten, using the name "Wiener Porzellanmanufaktur Augarten". To what extent this company is the legitimate heir to the traditional Imperial porcelain manufactory is something I guess the company wouldn′t want to elaborate in detail. The 1920ies were a period in which the Secession spirit of expanding art to items of daily use created a new need for high-quality porcelain.
Augarten Porcelain today
Art-Deco designs were made by famous artists of the Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna Workshop). Since then, the manufactory has gone through several economic crisis, but survived until today. Contemporary artists have added various collections after WWII and the Palais Augarten is a popular tourist attraction. Guided tours end - you won′t believe it - in a sales room.
Attractions nearby the Augarten manufactory are rather limited - the 20th and 2nd district are both generally rather unattractive, since they were shot into rubble in the course of WWII. Speaking of that: The Flak Towers are worth a closer look - enormous concrete towers that the Nazis built to defend Vienna against allied bomber units.
The Augarten itself is a nice formal garden in Baroque style, but that by itself is no real reason to go there, since the gardens of Schönbrunn or the Belvedere are more impressive in that respect. The area around Karmelitermarkt is popular not only with Orthodox Jews, but also with a young and arty crowd. For some green, go to the deep south of the Second District, the Prater area.
Return to "Augarten Porcelain - Part I"
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