Association For The Preservation Of Historical Buildings In Wrisbergholzen  

What Are Fayences ?    German language


"Fayence" is French and is derived from the name of a small Italian town named Faenza. It describes a ceramic product. The porous red or ochre clay piece is covered with a colored or white pewter glaze. 

After modelling the pieces are dried and baked at around 900 degress Celsius. When cooled down they are dipped into a glaze bath of sand, potash, lead, tin and water. This mixture remains as a glaze on the surface of the piece. Then it is painted with high temperature colors and then melted on again at more than 1100 degrees Celsius.

Depending on the kind of color material used a third firing was needed in order to fix the glaze.


Ceramics with colored lead or tin glazes have been manufactured since as early as the 4th millennium BC in Egypt and Greece.

"True" fayences, however, were not produced until the 9th century BC in Mesopotamia. The Arabs brought the fayences to Spain, from where they were introduced into Italy. This took place mainly from Majorca, so the fayences from the Spainish island are also known as majolica

From Faenza, a small town in the south of Florence, spread a complete change in style in the 16th century, from the extensive majolica patterning to a clear white ceramic with sparse patterning. The latter attempted to imitate the highly-prized "white gold", introduced by Marco Polo from China, and only produced in Europe after 1708.

In the 17th and 18th centuries the technique spread from Italy through France, Switzerland and Holland to the rest of Europe, where the product which was now made north of the Alpes was called "Fayence", after the town where it originated. For wide sections of society it became an affordable substitute for the luxury article porcelain. Many fayence factories, including ours in Wrisbergholzen, called themselves "Porcelain Factories", for obvious reasons.

In the Netherlands, where porcelain had been imported from China since around 1600 and was very much prized, the imitation technique was improved further. From Delft ("Delft China") the first fayence factories were founded in Germany in 1660.

From about 1800 fayence was replaced by English stoneware and by porcelain, the manufacture of which was gradually improving. Production began in Wrisbergholzen in 1736 and lasted unusually long - until 1834. Most of the artistic fayences we have in several museums date from the first 20 years of this period. It is believed that the factory later mainly produced pottery for ordinary people instead of artistic fayences and tiles for the rich.

A more detailed description by John McGregor - although titled "Very Concise History Of Faience" - and a listing of German faience factories you can find here as part of "The Beer Stein Site"

Thanks from the webmaster to his opposite neighbour Larry Megahey for the new version of the translation.