11 Nov
Wed / 2015

The Gilded Dish: A Rienzi Blog
Intrigue and Invention: Porcelain Comes to Europe

Do you crave a good story with espionage, competition, and dynamic personalities? Do courtly intrigues and royal rivalries set your heart aflutter? Then come along on one of Rienzi’s focus tours: “Rivals, Spies, and the Quest for White Gold: Rienzi's Porcelain Masterpieces.”

The mystery of how to make “white gold,” or porcelain, had perplexed Europeans since the age of exploration. Royal courts from France to what is now Germany coveted this precious material from Asia, and the collecting of porcelain items became symbolic of prestige, wealth, and culture.

In the Kingdom of Saxony, King Augustus the Strong desired many things, but it was his passion for precious materials like gold and porcelain that drove him to kidnap and detain a self-proclaimed alchemist, Johann Friedrich Böttger.

Böttger was successful in cracking the code to making hard-paste porcelain with materials that included kaolin, a type of clay—and a porcelain-producing empire was born. Augustus the Strong founded the Meissen Porcelain Manufactory in 1710, and it became one of the most significant in Europe.

How did this knowledge travel the courts of Europe? Who would be next to develop the enigmatic formula for “white gold?” Find a tour date and hear the rest of the story!