The History of Faience and Porcelain Factories in Korets and Horodnitsa in Volhynia
On the initiative of Prince Józef Klemens Czartoryski, in 1784, a faience factory commenced operation in his Volhynian estates, in the suburbs of the town of Korets, in Józefina. It was the second farfurnia (in old Polish: factory of faience), after the one founded by King Stanisław August in Belweder near Warsaw on the territory of former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Czartoryski was well aware that the possession of the necessary resources within his own estates was the most lucrative way of organizing factories. For this reason, he sent samples of argil from the area of Korets to be analysed by experts in the famous. The outcome turned out to be to his advantage. The discovered deposits of kaolin, and other materials essential for production (kaolin was brought from Dąbrowica near Korets, flint — from Krzemieniec, and chalk — from Jampol), paved the way for business development.
The launch the factory dates back to 1784, because a year earlier Czartoryski concluded a contract with the first director of the faience factory, Franciszek Mezer (of French descent) from Warsaw. Mezer brought another specialist to Korets: his brother Michał. Kazimierz Sobiński managed the paint room. The artists that he managed included: Grzegorz Chomicki, Antoni Gajewski, and Bluman.
During the first years of the factory’s activity, only faience was produced. However, research was carried out from the outset with a view to producing porcelain. Around the year 1789, Franciszek Mezer made some successful attempts. He sent one of the first porcelain products to King Stanisław August, in the form of cups with a picture of the Korets factory painted on them. In return, Mezer received a congratulatory letter from the king. In the meantime, in recognition of his merits, the Polish Sejm [parliament] granted him the indygenat of Polish nobility (legal domestic recognition of foreign nobility). In this manner, the factory in Korets became the first factory producing porcelain in the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
The enterprise developed rapidly. It enjoyed a short period of prosperity over the years 1790–1792, before being interrupted by the Second Partition of Poland. In 1793, Volhynia was incorporated into Russia, restricting the export of products. Moreover, the duties increased, which resulted in lower profits. In 1795, the then director of the factory, Franciszek Mezer, left to settle in the estate of the Zamoyskis magnate family and founded another factory of faience and porcelain in Tomaszów Lubelski.
The position of director in the Korets factory was taken by his brother: Michał Mezer. It was a relatively difficult period for the factory. The situation became even worse after it suffered a fire in 1796. The utility buildings and paint room were completely destroyed and, to make matters worse, the warehouses were also burnt to the ground. The factory was rebuilt fairly quickly, with modest production being resumed in the second half of 1797, which, over time, reached the previous production level. A few years later, in 1803, Michał Mezer left the factory in Korets and signed a contract with Józefina and Adam Walewski for establishing a porcelain factory in Baranówka, Volhynia.
The final period of the factory’s activity took place during the years 1804–1832. Charles Meraud and Louis Petion were the specialists from the porcelain factory in Sèvres, who were brought to Korets to replace the Mezer brothers. The former was appointed the new director during the years 1804–1807. However, the contract with him was quickly terminated, due to his inability to manage the enterprise. In 1807, an important change occurred, regarding the functioning of the factory. Following Meraud’s suggestion, the factory of faience was moved to Horodnitsa, and the factory in Korets was limited to the production of porcelain only.
|Signature of Factory in Korets, source: Wikimedia Commons, public domain|
In the first few years of the operation of the faience factory, its goods were labelled with the inscription “Korzec”. From around 1790, faience and porcelain were marked with the picture of the eye of providence and, during the final period, both labels were used: that is the picture of the eye of providence with the inscription “Korzec”.
Prince Józef Klemens Czartoryski died in 1810, having divided his fortune between his five daughters before his death. Marianna Potocka (née Czartoryska) inherited the estate of Korzec. The heir to the Horodnitsa estate was Teresa Lubomirska (née Czartoryska)m but the local faience factory still belonged to all five daughters, which complicated the whole situation.
Due to the fact that Marianna Potocka took no interest in the Korets factory, Eustachy Erazm Sanguszko, the husband of her sister, Klementyna née Czartoryska, was authorised to act as its trustee. From Józef Klemens Czartoryski’s death in 1810, till the year 1817, the factory functioned as a joint-stock company. During that time, Sanguszko was the factory’s chairman. Subsequently, this position was taken by Gabriel Rzyszczewski — husband of Celestyna née Czartoryska — another daughter of Józef Klemens Czartoryski. Rzyszczewski transferred the lease of the porcelain factory to its last director: Louis Petion. Initially, for the period of 1821-1824, the period of lease was probably extended until 1832; that is, until the end of the factory’s operations. The factory in Korzec declined over this time and — despite Petion’s efforts — could not be revived. The factory was closed in 1832. However, due to its complicated legal and financial situation, the process of liquidation and warehouse sell-out lasted until 1846.
After Józef Klemens Czartoryski’s death, a conflict between the heiresses to the faience factory in Horodnitsa emerged, concerning the person managing the enterprise. Finally, Henryk Lubomirski, husband of Teresa née Czartoryska, who — as heiress to the Horodnitsa estate was the most rightful owner — leased the factory e e. The factory was developed over time. After the decline of the factory in Korzec, it gained new employees and access to kaolin deposits. After Henryk Lubomirski’s death in 1850, his son, Jerzy, sold the Horodnitsa estate to Wacław Rulikowski, who was the next owner of the factory. In the 1850s, after previous attempts, the factory started to produce porcelain as well. Rulikowski renovated and enlarged the factory. However, due to his financial problems after a fire (around 1877), the operations of the factory began to decline. The indebted estate was eventually transferred to the Poltava Mortgage Bank. At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, the factory was passed quickly from consecutive owners to lessees, and it switched to mass production. In 1917, the factory in Horodnitsa was nationalized, and it has been de facto operational to this day.
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