Underglaze painting

Underglaze painting where the paint is applied to the unglazed material before a second firing is a technique peculiar to the production of porcelain. The technique was introduced at Nymphenburg in 1903 and experienced its peak during the art nouveau period. It is still employed to the highest perfection by Nymphenburg's masters to decorate many animal sculptures and figures.

Thanks to the soft restrained colours and the flowing gradations it produces, this method of painting is highly suitable for the reproduction of animal furs, feathers and finely clothed figures. In underglaze painting, the paint is brushed or sprayed on to the pieces before their first glazing. Work always commences with the darkest colours. Some of the paint is then removed to enable the lighter areas to be reworked. Shades of colour that block each other out when they're applied appear transparent after firing. The finely graded colour variations resulting from this layering are emphasized in their brilliance through various types of glaze.

The colours used for the underglaze must be particularly resistant to heat because they're fired a second time at 1,400°C – a temperature that only few colours can withstand. In spite of these difficulties, Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg has succeeded in developing a uniquely broad and finely graded palette of colour pigments for its work.

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The Nymphenburg Movie

A unique visual tour through the Nymphenburg ateliers.

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Water power

Even today, all mechanical equipment at the listed and protected buildings of Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg is powered by the water which runs from the estate's stream – just as it was in the 18th century.

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Paste mill

The production of the correct mix of kaolin, feldspar and quartz is an art that Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg has refined over its 260 years.

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Turning shop

All round parts – plates, bowls, vases – are made by hand on potter's wheels and, not as in other companies, on roller machines.

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Model shop

The model shop lies at the heart of Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg. This is where the plaster moulds for casting and drying all porcelain parts that are not round are made.

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Model & mould archive

More than 30,000 shapes are stored at Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg's model and mould archive.

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Moulding shop

All pieces that cannot be shaped on the potter's wheel are cast by hand. To this end, the so-called "slip", the liquefied porcelain paste, is filled in plaster moulds, which may be used up to 15 times.

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Luting shop

Many figures and objects by Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg that are made up of many parts are given their final shape at the luting shop.

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Paint laboratory

Nymphenburg's paints are famous for their brilliance, purity and rich variety of shades.

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Kiln

In the production of high-quality Nymphenburg porcelain, the process of firing is at least just as important as the balanced composition of the basic materials.

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Painting

The designs are Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg's signature. Hardly any other manufactory has such a wealth of motifs and opulence in its range.

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Underglaze painting

The technique is still employed to the highest perfection by Nymphenburg's masters to decorate many animal sculptures and figures.

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Gilding

The gilded areas and platinum ornamentations are dull and lacklustre when they leave the kiln and so must subsequently be buffed up with the help of agate and haematite.

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Majolica

Nymphenburg majolica is unique in the world. Nymphenburg has been producing majolica figures and tiles by hand using traditional methods for around 160 years.

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