House of Wittelsbach

The history of Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg is inseparably linked to the royal Bavarian Wittelsbach family. On 1 November 1747, Elector Max III Joseph set up the electoral porcelain manufactory at his "Grünes Schlössl" in Neudeck near Munich. Its location close to a millstream, the "Auer Mühlbach” ensured the availability of the required water power to operate the equipment. Initial difficulties in production and high investments without resulting in any major successes, however, soon caused the elector to lose interest in the production of porcelain. It was only in 1754 when porcelain was manufactured for the first time under controlled conditions that the elector rediscovered his enthusiasm for the "Churfürstliche Porcelain-Fabrique". From then on, the porcelain manufactory, which was ideologically and financially borne by the Wittelsbach family, became an important prestige object for the Bavarian Electorate.

Porcelain – "white gold" – was at the time regarded as one of the most valuable and desirable luxury items and was adored and admired almost as much as relics and jewels. Porcelain was the epitome of courtly cultivation and served highly representative purposes. Accordingly, the Wittelsbach family was at first the main procurer of electoral porcelain – they commissioned both the "Royal Bavarian Service" as well as gifts for befriended electorates and royal families. Each plate, each cup was stamped with the shield of diamonds and the porcelain thus became the electoral export trademark.

Scope for expansion at Neudeck was limited and thus the manufactory relocated in 1761 to the northern circular building at the Nymphenburg palace. The porcelain manufactory blossomed there over the coming years. Its reputation for producing porcelain of the highest quality and craftsmanship soon spread beyond the country with Nymphenburg porcelain even being sent to Venice.

The porcelain manufactory experienced renewed growth under the auspices of Elector Carl Theodor and his successor, Max IV Joseph – both from the Palatinate line of the Wittelsbach family. Carl Theodor relocated from his residence in Mannheim to Munich to better fulfil his official role – but not without taking his art treasures with him. The porcelain manufactory in Frankenthal was merged with Nymphenburg in 1800 during the reign of Max IV Joseph. Particularly famed for its figurative work, the experience and artistic craftsmanship at the Frankenthal location continued at Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg.

Bavaria had become a kingdom in 1806 and, in 1815, the manufactory was elevated to the status of Staatliche Kunstanstalt (State Art Institution). Porcelain painting blossomed anew when King Ludwig I took office in 1825: he commissioned plates and platters from the manufactory which were not used as services, but which were meant to document the most important works of art of the time. These "reproductions" on porcelain may today be found at the Munich Residenzmuseum and Marstallmuseum where they are on loan from the Wittelsbacher Ausgleichfonds.

The focus of production shifted with increasing industrialisation: more and more technical porcelain, e.g. insulator cups for telegraph poles and laboratory dishes, was produced while artistic work fell by the wayside. Consequently, the Wittelsbach family decided to rent out the porcelain manufactory as it couldn't be sold because of the royal location.

The premises were leased to the Bäuml family from 1888 to 1975. Albert Bäuml had recognised the potential of the manufactory, which at this time had already suffered considerably from restructuring, and applied for the lease. It is thanks to him that the tradition of Nymphenburg porcelain dating from 18th century was revived. He repaired the buildings and started producing Nymphenburg services following classical shapes. It is thanks to his research that Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg is able to draw on its again comprehensive archive of original moulds and samples.

A large part of the buildings were destroyed during World War II. But the valuable moulds and models were saved – they had been removed and stored in the cellars of the Badenburg Palace. The brothers, Alfred, Fritz and Kurt Bäuml, rebuilt the manufactory after the war. Following the death of his brothers, Kurt Bäuml carried on the manufactory until 1975 at which point, thanks to the intervention of HRH Duke Albrecht of Bavaria, he turned it over to the Wittelsbach Compensation Fund. Since 1996 the Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg has been under the patronage of HRH Duke Franz of Bavaria. In October 2011 Prince Luitpold of Bavaria took over Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg from the Wittelsbach Compensation Fund.

House of Wittelsbach

Elector Max III Joseph

House of Wittelsbach

Elector Carl Theodor

House of Wittelsbach

Elector Max IV Joseph

House of Wittelsbach

King Ludwig I of Bavaria

House of Wittelsbach

King Max II Joseph of Bavaria

House of Wittelsbach

King Ludwig II of Bavaria

House of Wittelsbach

Prince Regent Luitpold of Bavaria

House of Wittelsbach

King Ludwig III of Bavaria

House of Wittelsbach

Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria

House of Wittelsbach

Duke Albrecht of Bavaria

House of Wittelsbach

Duke Franz of Bavaria