In honor of our upcoming auction, which includes over 50 of these figurines, we are discussing the unique pieces of Lladro porcelain.
Considering its large following and collectability, Lladro porcelain got its start relatively recently, in 1953. Three Lladro brothers, Juan, Jose, and Vicente, combined their artistic talents and started created plates, vases, and figures in Almassera, Spain. At the time, they found their inspiration in the other great ceramic artists throughout Europe.
It wasn’t until the 1960s that their signature look started taking shape. The brothers began experimenting with elongating the lines in their figurines, giving them a contemporary, more elegant look. They also switched from triple-firing to a single-firing technique that left the colors pastel instead of bright. In 1965, they brought this unique look to the U.S. for the first time. Their first U.S. gallery and museum was opened in 1988 on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, and their second opened in 1997 on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.
Creating a Lladro figurine is not a quick process. Each piece starts with a picture, from which an artist sculpts a clay model. The model is reproduced roughly in alabaster, sculptors carve the intricate details to create the molds. This process alone can take up to five years.
Once the molds are complete, liquid porcelain is poured into molds representing different sections of the figurine. The exact formulas for Lladro porcelain is a closely guarded secret, but it includes feldspar, quartz, and kaolin. Different proportions of these components are used for different purposes. The pieces are assembled and painted after the porcelain dries and fired at 2500 degrees Fahrenheit. During the firing process, the more complicated and delicate figurines are supported with porcelain pieces to keep them from breaking in the kiln.
Each completed figurine is given a name in Spanish and in English; the names often have different meanings rather than the English one being a direct translation. The names of pieces are also often changed partway throughout the line, which can sometimes make them difficult for collectors to identify.
In addition to their recognizable figurines, Lladro makes other lines of porcelain:
· Jewelry – necklaces, earrings, pins, hair clips
· Lighting – table lamps, floor lamps, sconces, pendant lights, chandeliers
· Home accessories – candleholders, vases, bowls, trays, teacups, salt and pepper shakers, mirrors
Throughout the decades, Lladro’s subjects have included flowers, human figures, animals, and religious traditions. The 21st century brought with it new concepts, including pieces with a matte white finish, black-and-white creations, and pieces with bright colors rather than pastels, showing Lladro’s ability to progress and create new art.
Whether you prefer the muted pastels from decades past that made them recognizable, or the bright colors or monochromatic palettes of their more recent creations, Lladro figurines can make a unique collection. Check out our upcoming auction that includes Asian and Christmas figurines, and a piece of talismania jewelry from Lladro.
To view these beautiful items in part one of our upcoming auction, click here.