A Changing Manufactory

Interview with Matthias Dotschko - Division manager of the painting department at KPM

How does one become a porcelain painter and why did you decide to become one?

MD: You should have an interest in drawing and painting and at least a passing talent. It is also important to have good spacial awareness and a feel for forms and colours. Then you apply at one of the manufactories and complete a training period of 3.5 years.

I actually wanted to become a restorer in the Oberlausitz, where I come from, but then I discovered Meissen porcelain and was immediately drawn in.

How many painters does KPM employ today?

MD: 218 people.

How many people were employed by the painting department in the 18th and 19th century?

MD: 52, of which 26 were apprentice painters/journeymen/gilders.

What new techniques have been added since then?

MD: Relief gold painting, artisan glazes, pâte-sur-pâte, new underglaze pigments, “weichmalerei”, enamel appliqués, lustre décor, craquelure, spray painting techniques and decors, lithophanes, Seger porcelain, seladon borders.

Are there things that can no longer be produced today?

MD: KPM had, and still has, a laboratory where are a lot of experiments are carried out and where they work with old techniques and try out new ones. There is nothing that cannot be produced, but whether it is or not is always a question of the market and customer demand.

Have pigment recipes changed much since the 19th century?

MD: Some of the pigment mixtures have remained exactly the same, but in the last decade, harmful ingredients such as lead and uranium have been removed.

What fascinates you most about your predecessors' works?

MD: With every year that KPM keeps producing, developing, and designing new things, they add wonderful pieces and décor. It brings me such joy to be a part of that, to immerse myself in the firm's artistic history, dig through the archives, see new collections and get inspired, that is where the fascination lies.

Which is your favourite lot from the Prussian auction and why?

MD: I really like the nuptial vase, it has such classical elegance and at the same time such fine décor.