Gardner Porcelain Factory, (Russian, founded 1766)

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The origins of the Gardner Porcelain Factory lie with English banker Francis Gardner, who founded the company in 1766. The initial factory was established in Verbilki, a small village in the Dmitrov district of Moscow Province. The Gardner Porcelain Factory was significant for being the first private porcelain factory in Russia, as the Imperial Porcelain Factory, which was founded in 1744, manufactured porcelain solely for the Russian Imperial Court.

By the mid-1770s, the Gardner factory had already begun to compete with the Imperial Porcelain Factory in terms of both quality of production and artistic merit.  The result was to win Gardner Porcelain a multitude of commissions from the Russian Imperial Court, the most prestigious of which was the creation of huge and magnificent services for royal banquets. Empress Catherine the Great was a huge admirer of Gardner porcelain, and commissioned the factory to produce works to furnish a suburban residence for her son.

Imperial commissions augmented the Gardener Factory’s prestige, and attracted a host of private commissions from wealthy members of the Russian nobility. When more private factories set up in Russia in the 19th century, the Gardner Factory maintained its high standards and continued to enjoy a distinguished reputation for excellence.

Aside from the very high quality of their output, the Gardner Factory was alive to changing tastes and fashions. The defeat of Napoleon in 1812's Patriotic War by the Russians sparked a new wave of national self-consciousness which lead to a fresh interest into the life of the common man. The aesthetics of High Neoclassicism and the detailing of a Romanticised scene of Russian peasant life is characteristic of the period.

The Gardner factory continued to receive imperial commissions into the late 19th Century. During the Soviet era, the factory was nationalised and renamed after the nearby town of Dmitrov. The Dmitrov Porcelain Factory created both mass-produced items and unique works of high quality, which received international acclaim and won awards at the 1937 Exposition Universelle in Paris. After the fall of Communism, the original name of Gardner was returned to the manufactory.