Rosenthal Porcelain: A German Tradition of Excellence

Rosenthal porcelain is a German brand of fine china, porcelain, and luxury accessories that has been producing high-quality and innovative products for over 140 years. It was founded by Philipp Rosenthal, a visionary entrepreneur who transformed the ceramic industry with his creativity and business acumen. In this blog post, I will give you a brief overview of the history of Rosenthal porcelain, from its foundation to its present-day achievements.

The Foundation of Rosenthal Porcelain

Philipp Rosenthal was born in 1855 in Werl, North Rhine-Westphalia, into a Jewish family of merchants. He started his career as a salesman, traveling across Europe and selling various goods, such as porcelain, glassware, and textiles. In 1879, he decided to start his own porcelain business in Selb, Bavaria, where he rented a room in the castle Erkersreuth. He bought white porcelain from the nearby factory of Hutschenreuther, and hired his wife Maria and some local women to hand-paint it with floral motifs. He then sold his products door to door, using his horse-drawn carriage as a mobile showroom1

In 1891, Rosenthal established his own porcelain factory in Asch, Bohemia, where he began to produce his own white porcelain, using the latest technology and machinery. He also hired talented artists and designers, such as Franz von Zülow, Maria von Heider-Schweinitz, and Paul Wunderlich, who created original and artistic decorations for the porcelain. Rosenthal also expanded his product range, offering not only tableware, but also vases, figurines, and clocks. He also diversified his markets, exporting his products to various countries, such as England, France, Russia, and the United States2

The Success of Rosenthal Porcelain

Rosenthal’s porcelain business grew rapidly and successfully, becoming one of the leading and most prestigious porcelain manufacturers in Germany and Europe. Rosenthal acquired several other porcelain factories, such as Bauer, Rosenthal & Co. in Kronach in 1897, Philipp Rosenthal & Co. AG in 1906, Thomas in Marktredwitz in 1908, Zeidler & Co. in Selb in 1917, Krister in Wałbrzych in 1921, and Waldershof in 1936. He also established a subsidiary company, Rosenthal Isolatoren GmbH, in 1939, which produced ceramic insulators for electrical engineering3

Rosenthal’s porcelain products attracted the attention and admiration of the royal and aristocratic families, as well as the cultural and artistic elites, who commissioned and collected them as a sign of elegance and refinement. Rosenthal also received numerous awards and honors for his porcelain, such as the Grand Prix at the Paris World Exhibition in 1900, the Gold Medal at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904, and the Grand Prix at the Brussels World’s Fair in 1910. Rosenthal also became a member of the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts in 1910, and was appointed as a Royal Bavarian Commercial Counselor in 1917.

The Legacy of Rosenthal Porcelain

Rosenthal faced many challenges and difficulties during the Nazi regime and the World War II, which forced him to withdraw from his company in 1934, due to his Jewish origin. He died in 1937, and his family emigrated abroad. His son, Philip Rosenthal Jr., returned to Germany after the war, and reclaimed the ownership and control of the company in 1950. He modernized and restructured the company, and hired new and famous artists and designers, such as Raymond Loewy, Bjørn Wiinblad, Tapio Wirkkala, and Walter Gropius, who created new and contemporary styles and forms for the porcelain. He also supported social and environmental causes, such as the abolition of nuclear weapons, the protection of nature, and the promotion of democracy.

Rosenthal’s company continued to produce high-quality and innovative porcelain products throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, adapting to the changing tastes and trends of the times. The company also merged and acquired other porcelain and glass companies, such as Hutschenreuther, Thomas, Arzberg, Nachtmann, and Versace. The company also became a cultural institution, which preserves and promotes the heritage and excellence of Rosenthal and German porcelain. It has a museum, a library, and a school, which offer various exhibitions and educational programs.

Today, Rosenthal is still one of the most respected and renowned brands of fine china, porcelain, and luxury accessories in the world. It is owned by the Italian company Sambonet Paderno Industrie, and has a global presence and appeal. It is also a Royal Warrant holder, meaning that it supplies goods to the British royal family. It continues to produce new and original designs, as well as classic and iconic pieces, such as the Maria, the Suomi, and the TAC. Rosenthal is a German tradition of excellence, that has shaped and influenced the history and culture of ceramics for over a century.

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