Ceramic manufacture was not only carried out in the capital and centre of the country. The famous Viana factory was located in the North of Portugal.
Situated in Darque (Viana do Castelo), this factory was founded in 1774 and developed various types of high-quality production.
But it was in the Oporto region that the largest production centre of Portuguese Faience emerged in the 18th century, beginning of the 19th century, benefitting from the perks granted by the Pombaline reforms and the introduction of foreign capital.
The Massarelos Factory (Fábrica de Massarelos), situated in Oporto, seems to be the oldest industrial unit in this sector, even predating the Rato Factory (Fábrica do Rato), having started operating in 1764.
Founded by Manuel Duarte Silva, the factory, which remained in the hands of the family for some years, produced Faience pieces for both the national market and for the colonies and even for Galicia. During this period its production seems to have specialised in pieces painted blue adorned by the characteristic Rouen edgings.
Later the factory was rented out to other industrialists (including Rocha Soares), and it then underwent a production crisis in 1829/1830 in the wake of a fire and litigations between the factory owners. Its situation ended up stabilising despite some changes in ownership.
However, from 1870 onwards, and with the death of João da Rocha e Sousa, the Factory of Massarelos entered in a circle of administrative instability which was only to end right in the heart of the 20th century.
After being shutdown between 1895 and 1900, it fell into the hands of João Regis de Lima and was again let out to a new company, mainly made of up of English people, going by the name of Empresa Cerâmica Portuense, Ldª. This was dissolved in 1912 and gave way to a new company, the partners being Archibald James Wall and his wife and Charles F. Chambers and his son going by the name of Chambers & Wall.
In 1920 the building was consumed by fire, and only the prestige of the brand “Massarelos – Oporto” remained and continued to be used in the production of the Roriz factory and associated units.
Finally, in 1936 the factory was sold to Companhia das Fábricas de Cerâmica Lusitânia SARL.
On the other bank of the river in Gaia, in operation since 1784, worthy of special mention was the St.º António do Vale da Piedade Factory (Fábrica de Santo António do Vale da Piedade) which was led by the Genovese trader Jerónimo Rossi, the Vice-consul of Sardinia in Oporto.
Worthy of mention is the great volume of exports from the factory to Brazil but, just as the other ceramic productions, it suffered with the French invasions and the subsequent opening up of the market to imports of English-made products. Jeronimo Rossi died in 1821 and his daughters, particularly Joana Rossi, continued to run the factory.
After a period in which it went through the hands of Francisco Galvão and later Francisco da Rocha Soares and João da Rocha e Sousa, the factory was rented out again in 1834 after the liberal wars to a company in which João de Araújo Lima was involved, and it changed hands again one year later, becoming the property of J. Augusto Kopke, again being managed by Joana Rossi. In 1843 a fire destroyed the factory and in 1846 Araújo Lima reconstituted the original complex product.
Subsequent to the death of Araújo Lima, under the management of João do Rio Júnior, changes were made which led to the production of ornamentation pieces in relief for interiors and exteriors.
In 1886 the factory burned down and some of its workers went to Caldas da Rainha on the initiative of Feliciano Bordalo Pinheiro. The company which ran it was dissolved in 1902 though the factory continued to operate until the start of the 1930’s.
Tureen with cover
Of the Portuguese Faience factories in Oporto, also worthy of mention is the Miragaia Factory
(Fábrica de Miragaia
). Founded in 1775 by João Rocha, a Brazilian emigrant, and his nephew João
Bento da Rocha, this factory dedicated a large part of its production to exports to the Brazilian market.
Producing high-quality Earthenware, his strategy involved the adoption of Decorative stamped models, competing directly with English production. The contracting of famed masters from ceramics’ factories contributed greatly to this strategy.
This ceramic production took the same course as others with family management.
After the difficult years of the French invasions, there was a prestige period and in 1814 the Miragaia Factory was regarded as the biggest factory of its kind in Oporto.
However, in the decade which followed, the importing of English Earthenware both to Portugal and to the Brazilian market dictated the stagnation and crisis in the production of Miragaia.
As an alternative, it was endeavoured to lend a new dynamic at the end of the 1920’s, imitating English Earthenware.
With the death in 1829 of Francisco Rocha Soares, Francisco Rocha Soares Filho took possession of the Miragaia Factory which would strategically dominate the Oporto Earthenware market by bringing together in one organisation the other rival companies (factories of Carvalhinho, Fervença, Fontinha, Monte Cavaco and Vale Piedade).
However, his close political relationships in the Civil War, and even with the Oporto Council, were to be reversed resulting in its ruin in 1852 when he was declared bankrupt and the factory was closed. Finally, in 1857 when the aforementioned owner died the factory was sold in a public auction.
Other ceramic factories which were situated on the south bank of the Douro in Vila Nova de Gaia, diversified the range of production of this city. Worthy of special mention were the Afurada Factory (Fábrica da Afurada
), which became famous for the production of anthromorphic vessels, as well as the Fervença Factory (Fábrica de Fervença
28 April 2008