Decorative figurines are basically mini statuettes that depict various art forms. They usually consist of human or animal designs that are either realistic or iconic in design. Artists typically curve or mold figurines from different materials including ceramics, glass, metal, wood, and plastic. However, unlike modern dolls and action figures, figurines normally do not have any moving body parts. In fact, most enthusiasts do not consider figurines to be toys, but household ornamental artifacts, which is not actually surprising considering their rich history. Here is a brief historical perspective on these iconic sculptures.
Decorative Figurine in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries
The history of figurines spans across three centuries in continental Europe. It all started with the discovery of hard porcelain in Meissen, Germany, around 1709. This discovery ushered in a new art form in European royal courts and residential mansions. During this time, wealthy individuals often commissioned sculptors to curve life-sized models of both human and animal forms using ceramics to adorn their wealthy households. Consequently, Meissen figurines from the highly guarded German factory became all the rage in banquet tables across Europe.
However, rapid industrialization across Europe, wars, and trade between countries resulted in the spread of porcelain making skills from Germany to neighboring countries. By early 19th century, many European monarchies and courts had their own porcelain factories and sculptors. Many of these early designs mimicked the rococo style that originated from the Meissen sculptors of Germany. Two of the leading figurine makers during this period were the French company Sevres and the German family Hutschenreuther. In fact, Sevres figurines and Hutschenreuther figurines remain collectors' items to date.
By the late 19th century, the industrial revolution was raging in most of the developed world. Earlier on, about 30 porcelain figurine companies existed in the whole of Europe. Now, over 1000 of these companies were operational with each competing to produce figurines for mass retail among the growing middle class.
The design of figurines was no longer an art form but booming business. Cheap and plain looking figurines in baroque and rococo styles became commonplace in many homes. Some companies went as far as copying designs from the old masters such as Horchst and Ludwigsburg, including their unique markings and insignia. During this period, the value of figurines fell significantly on the market, and finding genuine collector's pieces was almost impossible. However, this downward trend began to change from the onset of the 20th century.
Decorative Figurines in The Twentieth Century
One of the major influencers of 20th century figurine art was Henry Doulton, founder of the Royal Doulton in England. This gifted sculptor and potter established a studio at the Lambeth School of Art, and allowed young students to experiment on porcelain figurines. Around the same time, German sculptors also established several Art schools including the famous "Schwarzburger Werkstätten für Porzellankunst" in Unterweissbach. Danish potters were also beginning to experiment on porcelain and other materials, and succeeded in attracting great attention to their figurines after the establishment of the Royal Copenhagen. As a result, a new style of figurine designs began to emerge from the erstwhile watered down collectors market. The new style received the moniker "Jugendstil" after a German magazine that promoted it. The growth of "Jugendstil" under the Art Nouveau movement was mainly because of creative figurine patterns and designs from youthful artists in Europe. Factories such as Beswick, Doulton, Coalport, Worcester, Copeland, and Wedgewood in England thrived under this new art form. Popular figurines from this period included hummel and Rosenthal figurines which collectors regard highly up to date.
Later on though, Art Nouveau evolved into 20th century modernism due to the artistic influences of artists like Pablo Picasso. However, old masters like Meissen and Royal Copenhagen were still producing quality figurine although newer competitors were gradually catching up with them. For instance, Rosenthal and Wien Augarten in Austria became world famous for their high-end figurines. Herend of Hungary, Lladro of Spain, and Doccia of Italy were also master sculptors in the new art forms. By the mid fifties, figurine production was at its prime following a brief hiatus during the first and Second World Wars.
Decorative Figurines from Mid Fifties to Present Day
Historically, the second half of the 20th century saw very little creativity in the figurines art scene. Many factories had already shut down their production lines at the height of the world wars and were unwilling to reopen. Raw materials for porcelain production became expensive forcing many companies to close shop. Few porcelain artists were willing to continue with the trade, and labor became expensive to hire. The few factories that remained operational kept on recycling their old figurine moulds. By 1980, only a few figurine companies existed in Europe. High cost of labor, raw materials, and shrinking demand by customers ruined the figurine market. This trend continues in Europe up to date, and only a few companies still maintain regular production of decorative figurines for sale. Nevertheless, demand for collector's figurines has gradually replaced the indifference for new ones among buyers.
Growing Demand for Collectors Figurines
Antique porcelain figurines from old masters such as Meissen and Sevres are almost impossible to find today. Many of these rare treasures disappeared from households, churches, as well as museums at the height of the industrial revolution and the two world wars. However, a number of valuable antique figurines have passed on from generation to the next among some families while curators have managed to trace other relics from different places. Antiquities such as Limoges figurines from St Yriex, France, and ancient Rosenthal figurines from Germany are quite valuable in nature, and are a source of enchantment among collectors worldwide. Consequently, passionate art and craft enthusiasts are always ready to part with huge amounts to obtain such artifacts from owners.
Some examples of rare and precious figurines include the following:
The Volkstedt Porcelain Factory began operating around 1760 after the Prince of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt gave a local sculptor the permission to be the only porcelain producer in the region. The factory received royal protection and incentives enabling it to grow in size and stature over the next 100 years or so. At the height of its production, records show that the Volkstedt Porcelain factory was producing over 90 different types of figurines. Curators tout the factory as the pioneer of the "Dresden Lace"' a design of molding that features the inclusion of actual laces on figurines. The factory was bombed heavily during the Second World War, but the owner's niece later had it rebuilt in Ireland where it stands up to date. Antique figurines from the Volkstedt Collection are quite valuable in nature due to their high demand among collectors.
The town of Sitzendorf Germany is reputable for its quality silica mines. Georg Heinrich Macheleidt established a porcelain company there in the 18th century where it stands up to date. The company was involved in the mining of glazing materials as well as porcelain production. Collectors are willing to purchase figurines from Sitzendorf depending on their historical significance and rarity. Figurines with a double slash mark on the bottom are the most valuable items from the company since they are likely to date back to the late 18th century.
Apart from these historically significant figurines, a number of contemporary statuettes are also available for collectors to consider. They include the following popular brands:
Individuals can add a touch of elegance on their mantelpieces by displaying a number of figurines from the Lenox collection. The Lenox collection features country animal figurines, female statuettes, angel figurines, nature, and seasonal inspired designs. These include Lenox bird figurines, Christmas figurines, personalized designs, carousels, and unicorns. Lenox statuettes are not only exquisite in appearance, but also quite affordable in price.
Disney ceramic figurines are delightful keepsakes for any family. They range from the popular Mickey and Minnie Mouse figurines to the charming Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs statues. Disney porcelain figurines offer loads of options among kids and adults alike. Families can start their collections by obtaining one or two of these attractive figurines, and placing them prominently on their mantelpieces or other convenient place inside the house.
Lefton China began making porcelain and ceramic ware in the mid forties. Currently, the company still produces random collections of popular lighthouses, figurines, and other keepsakes for household decoration. Lefton also makes delicate Chinaware and other decorative ceramic pieces for homes. These products are available in many countries across the globe.
Decorative figurines have adorned homes in Europe and Asia for centuries. These charming porcelain art forms have taken various designs and appearances since they made their debut in European Courthouses and wealthy households. The industrial revolution created a burgeoning middle class that saw figurines become commonplace among typical households. However, the turbulent start of the 20th century almost saw decorative figurines lose their significance as the developing world engaged in conflict after the other culminating in the First and Second World Wars. Afterwards, a long recession led to the collapse of many companies including several that were involved in porcelain production. Nevertheless, world economies began to rebound in the eighties and early nineties creating a booming middle class. This has led to a steady demand for decorative figurines including collectible products such as the ones listed above.
Lladro Figurines-- Hand Made In Spain
Lladro figurines are made in the City of Porcelain, in the town of Almaserra, Spain. Three Lladro brothers started this company in 1953 in the courtyard of the family house. Today they use more than 2000 individuals and Lladro figurines are sold all over the globe. Earth, color and fire are the three major elements in the production of each of the Lladro figurines as they are hand sculpted to excellence.
You could search an online catalog for figurines from Lladro from Spain and have the ones you want delivered to you. Usage the Lladro internet site to locate all of the figurines they have and the merchants nearest you, if you favor to make your acquisition in person.
When you buy a Lladro figurine and you are not sure of its credibility, you ought to examine the bottom of the figurine. If it has the Lladro prototype printed on the bottom, then you are the owner of an authentic figurine of Lladro from Spain.
There are numerous different series of Lladro figurines-- open series, minimal series and numbered series. A Lladro figurine from the open series are produced in an unrestricted number. In the restricted series, there are only a set number of figurines developed and when they are sold, they are not produced any more. This is just what makes these figurines so valuable and why individuals who have them want to get the effective Lladro repair work if something takes place to them. The numbered series of figurines by Lladro from Spain are also produced in a minimal number and hold a certification of credibility.
Along with buying Lladro figurines, you could additionally purchase accessories to complement your Lladro from Spain pieces. When you buy Lladro figurines, you could also buy unique insurance against breakage.
When you purchase a Lladro figurine and you are not sure of its authenticity, you ought to examine the bottom of the figurine. If it has the Lladro prototype printed on the bottom, then you are the owner of an authentic figurine of Lladro from Spain.
The numbered series of figurines by Lladro from Spain are additionally produced in a limited number and carry a certificate of authenticity.
Along with getting Lladro figurines, you can also buy add-ons to complement your Lladro from Spain pieces.