Rörstrand was founded in 1726 in the castle of Rörstrand in Stockholm. Initially, a German porcelain maker, Johann Wolff, led the Swedish operation. Second only to Meissen, which was established in 1709, Rörstrand is one of the oldest European ceramic brands. At the outset, Rörstrand's tin-glazed faience works were done in cobalt blue, a color inspired by Chinese porcelain. While highly decorative, this tableware gradually became widespread. The 1740s saw the development of the Rörstrand style with classic Swedish patterns like the Nordstjärna and the Rehnska. In 1758, Rörstrand began marking its works with a stamp because various competitors had entered the market. French art and the Rococo style influenced Rörstrand in the late 18th century, yielding porcelain adorned with flowers, fruit, and fish in a range of colors. Earthenware also replaced faience and the first dinner service was released, Sepia.
The Industrial Revolution changed production at Rörstrand in the early 1800s. With the company's first steam engine, pressing designs with copper plates became much easier. At the same time, artisans continued their meticulous hand painting. Dinner services grew in size and often included impressive tureens and bowls. England and Turkey were key influences in this period, with lines like the Willow and Black Sweden showing pastoral or exotic landscapes. In the mid-to-late 19th century, Rörstrand was very successful selling bone china and feldspar porcelain, making the firm one of Sweden's ten largest businesses. At the World Exhibition in Paris in 1900, Rörstrand displayed an array of elaborate Art Nouveau dishes and urns. In 1909, Rörstrand set up a subsidiary, Höganäs Keramik, in Gothenburg. Gradually, all operations would move from Stockholm to Gothenburg in the 1920s and later to Lidköping in the 1930s, with Gunnar Nylund as artistic director.
The mid-century period at Rörstrand was productive and characterized by innovation. Esteemed ceramicist Carl-Harry Stålhane began his career at Rörstrand, under the tutelage of Isaac Grünewald, and he developed new stoneware forms and glazes. Other important designers who worked at Rörstrand in the post-war era were Hertha Bengtson, Marianne Westman, Olle Alberius, and Inger Persson. In 1976, the Rörstrand Museum opened in Lidköping, with 15,000 works from the company's history. To commemorate the Nobel Prize's 90th anniversary in 1991, Rörstrand introduced the official Nobel dinner service by Karin Björqvist. Millennial designs vary from Pia Törnell's minimalist, Japanese-inspired Convito line to furniture designer Jonas Bohlin's platinum-decorated Qvint and Corona series to a reimagined, colorful Swedish Grace line. Approaching its 300th anniversary, Rörstrand continues to celebrate the past while boldly taking ceramics into the future.
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