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.