History of the Nymphenburg Porcelain Factory
The porcelain manufacture Nymphenburg has been handcrafting finest porcelain for 260 years. Porcelain services, figures and objects of the greatest quality and purity have been produced at just this one location in the world – the Nördliches Schlossrondell in Nymphenburg – since the 18th century.
The company achieved world renown with Franz Anton Bustelli from Ticino, who as the model master assumed the artistic directorship at the company from 1754. His rococo designs, and particularly his main body of work – the 16 figures from the Commedia dell’Arte – count undisputedly among the most artistic pieces of his time.
In the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century, it was such people as Friedrich von Gärtner, Adelbert Niemeyer, Josef Wackerle and Wolfgang von Wersin who continued to promote the factory’s fine reputation even through financially difficult times.
Since its founding Nymphenburg has counted the international high aristocracy as well as embassies, churches and palaces in Germany and other countries among its customers. Its products have received many prizes and may be admired in the world’s major design collections, e.g. the MoMA and the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum in New York, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, the Fondation Nationale in Paris, the Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien and the Neue Sammlung at the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich.
As one of the last, Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg still produces each individual item by hand. A fact that is appreciated by experts and collectors alike.
Franz Anton Bustelli ( 1723 – 1763 )
Bustelli joined the Neudeck ( Nymphenburg ) factory in Munich in 1754 and was rapidly promoted to head modeller, and created moulds for about 150 new models for Nymphenburg.
His first figures were small classical gods and putti, followed by a series of street vendors, as well as some larger religious figures. In a series of Chinese and Turkish figures, from about 1756 onwards, reflecting the Rococo taste for chinoiserie and Orientalism, he reached the height of his powers, seen in the mature figures of the following years. The most famous of his works are a set of eight pairs of male and female single figures whose glances interact, portraying characters in the Commedia dell’arte (1759–60). These were followed by groups of paired lovers and other figures, such as hounds.
Bustelli produced models that were made into moulds, and after Nymphenburg introduced painted figures in 1756, he executed or designed the paint scheme for a finished model to be followed by the factory’s painters. Models were produced in both polychrome and plain white examples, with the latter more numerous, and the colouring often varying considerably between examples. With the older, and far more prolific, modeller Johann Joachim Kaendler of Meissen, Bustelli is the outstanding artist of Rococo porcelain, and his best work has a unique grace, energy, drama and often wit. His figures are thoroughly designed in the round, meant to be appreciated from all angles. The bases are unusually thin, and often include scroll-work that integrates elegantly with the figures.
Today many Bustelli designs continue to be produced by Nymphenburg. Original figures may fetch over £150,000. The best collections of original pieces are in Munich, in the Bavarian National Museum, where a whole room is devoted to his work, and the Bäuml collection in the Marstallmuseum in Nymphenburg Palace; the Bäuml family owned the factory between 1888 and 1975. Other museums all over the world have examples.