About the brand Gien
Gien France has been producing faience for almost 200 years and over the years “La Faïencerie de Gien” has earned an enviable reputation worldwide. Faience is a fine, porous earthenware which is tin-glazed and then fired repeatedly. The sophisticated refinement of the resulting faience is what distinguishes it from other kinds of ceramic.
Gien’s faience is unparalleled in terms of colour, finesse and the wide variety of shapes and designs. The patterns Gien Alice and Gien Millefleurs are both among Gien’s most popular products and epitomize French country-house style at its best.
In 1821, an Englishman called Thomas Hall laid the foundation stone for one of the most respected “porcelain manufacturers” in France: “La Faïencerie de Gien” on the Loire. He introduced the French to the earthenware manufacturing techniques already being used in England – faience. Initially, the company focused on the production of functional china products. However, Gien France soon developed and started producing high-quality, elegant and innovative dinner services. Tableware adored with family coats of arms also became popular with members of the upper classes. Today, Gien is a successful worldwide name. Its faience products are exported to over 30 countries.
Faience – History and Manufacture
Faience takes its name from an Italian town: Faenza. The town had already made a name for its products during the Renaissance. Techniques, similar to those used for faience, have actually existed for much longer however - and date back to the fourth century BC in Ancient Egypt. It was in the fifth century that faience as we know it began to be manufactured in Persia.
In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries faience reached Spain and Italy. Mallorca and the North Italian city of Faenza are still regarded as important centres for this superior earthenware product. Delft, a Dutch faience factory, was one of the first establishments to export these products in large numbers (between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries).
Faience is a fine, porous earthenware product that is tin-glazed and then fired repeatedly at a temperature of 900°C. The shaped vessels are then dipped in a liquid glaze suspension made of sand, potash, tin, lead and water, after which they are then handpainted. This elaborate manufacturing procedure and the great care with which the designs are applied results in faience products that stand out in terms of quality and refinement.
Even if Gien faience is often referred to as "Gien porcelain", it is actually incorrect. Gien faience differs from porcelain not only in terms of the materials used, but also in the off-white base colour.
Gien faience is famous for its elaborate décor and the colourful designs of the dinner services. The handpainted earthenware adds a touch of Provençal joie de vivre, charm and southern flair to your dining table. A prime example of this is the Gien Oiseau Bleu décor with its natural looking fruit and floral motifs, which were created by the designer Isabelle de Borchgrave.
The elegantly timeless Gien Filets Bleus offers a captivating alternative with the simple, but elegant blue border on a delicate ecru that makes you dream of a day at the seaside.
Bestsellers in the Gien collection include Gien Alice and Gien Millefleurs. The “Gien Alice” faience dinner service is adorned with an enchanting mix of snow drops, pansies and grape hyacinths, while the “Gien Millefleurs” offers an opulent and romantic floral frenzy. Gien’s newer designs also show the company’s fable for French country-house style and the impressive collection includes designs such as the Gien Route des Indes or Gien Chevaux du Vent.
Over the years, Gien France has often developed new ideas based on existing designs and the collection mirrors the faience of the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Rouannais patterns helped increase Gien production. Style elements include the "horn of plenty" and "radiating" motifs. Other beautiful examples of this work include the "ironwork," and "basket of flowers”. What is more the company was influenced by Italian designs, the décors from Delft, fine porcelain from Saxony, English Wedgwood porcelain and design trends from the Far East.
The different decor interpretations and very varied porcelain collections from Gien can be admired in the Gien faience museum.
Each faience collection has its own “hallmark”
Since production started, each piece has received a deciphering stamp so that it is possible to ascertain when the porcelain was made. The press marks for the relevant periods have changed very little over the years and comprise letters that stand for the year of manufacture and later included one for the month. Since the middle of the twentieth century a third letter has also been added. This indicates the craftsman who made the faience.