Limoges, one of France’s largest cities, has been synonymous with exceptional porcelain for centuries, thanks to the kaolin or clay that was found in the region. Today, depletion of kaolin and changing tastes have shrunk the industry to only a few manufacturers.
The incredible legacy, beginning with the production of enamels in the Middle Ages, is preserved and explained in the Musee National Adrien Dubouche. Four levels of displays start with a step-by-step examination of ceramic manufacturing and continue with pristine examples of vases, figurines, tiles and other pieces from antiquity through the present. While many of these are from other noted centers of production, such as China and Holland, an entire area is devoted to the glassware and porcelain made in Limoges, beginning with the first manufacturer in 1771.
With its some 12,000 pieces, the museum anchors what’s become porcelain-focused tourism. Visitors can tour several factories, including Haviland and Bernardaud, walk the streets of the city and see ceramic plates on public and private buildings, and shop in stores where historic pieces are on display and an artist may be hand-painting plates. When buying, look for the obligatory Limoges, France, and the brand or stamp of the factory on porcelain, and for enamel, the words “email veritable de Limoges” or genuine Limoges enamel.
Here are some examples of porcelain found in the Musee National Adrien Dubouche: