Continental Porcelain Factories - Doccia, Capodimonte, Naples

Doccia, near Florence

This factory was started by the Marchese Carlo Ginori in 1735, remained in the ownership of his descendants until 1896, and is still in production. The factory has made all types of wares, many of which are notable for their exuberant modelling and decoration. A series of tablewares moulded in low relief with mythological scenes, coloured and with the flesh tones rendered by stippling was introduced as early as about 1760, and re-issued continuously. Through misunderstandings, and as a trade 'trick', the nineteenth-century versions were sold as products of the Capodimonte factory, and this name has stuck to them quite wrongly for fully a century. The Doccia paste is of a grey colour and often shows fire-cracks, the surface is rough and the glaze appears less shiny than many. The mark on eighteenth-century pieces is a star, taken from the arms of the Ginori family, more solid in the centre than the same mark used at Le Nove. The nineteenth-century Doccia copies of earlier wares, known as 'Capodimonte', have a crowned 'N' in underglaze blue or impressed. Imitations of these copies have, in turn, been made in Germany and France, and some of these are marked similarly.

Capodimonte, near Naples

The King of Naples married a daughter of Augustus the Strong, King of Saxony, who owned the Meissen factory and gave his daughter seventeen table services as part of her dowry. It is not surprising to learn that her husband became anxious to make porcelain in his own country; he succeeded in 1743 and a factory was opened in the grounds of the palace of Capodimonte. Sixteen years later, the King of Naples became Charles III of Spain, and removed most of the workmen and equipment to the garden of his palace of Buen Retiro in Madrid. The buildings were fortified by the French during the Peninsular War, and destroyed by Wellington's troops in 1812.

The Capodimonte ware is made of a creamy white soft-paste, of which surviving examples are usually finely decorated. Figures are rarely seen outside museums; many of them are original models comparable with the best of the eighteenth century. Some of the Capodimonte composition was shipped to Spain when the move was made to Buen Retiro, but this was expensive and attempts were made to find local substitutes. Eventually a good white paste was made, but on the whole the work produced in Spain is not considered to compare either in material or modelling with that done in Italy. In its earlier days the factory made snuff- boxes and other pieces modelled with naturalistic sea shells, and tablewares were often painted with scenes of horsemen at battle. The same marks were used at both factories: a fleur-de-lys in blue or gold, or incised.


The son of Charles of Spain, Ferdinand IV, King of Naples, started in 1771 a manufactory in emulation of that formerly at Capodimonte. A creamy white soft- paste was used for figures and tablewares, and figures were made in the fashionable biscuit. Some extensive table services were produced for presentation for diplomatic purposes; one sent to George III in 1787 is preserved at Windsor Castle. The marks are: the letters 'RF' in blue with a crown above; and a crowned 'N' in red or blue or impressed.

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