Royal Copenhagen is clearly the oldest, biggest and most well known of the Danish ceramic factories, with world renowned designers as Patrick Nordström, Carl Hallier, Axel Salto and Knud Kyhn. The second largest factory , Bing and Grondahl, started 100 years later, with designers like Gunnar Nylund, Nathalie Krebs, Henning Koppel, Erik Magnussen and Gertrud Vasegaard. There were several important smaller factories or independent workshops in the 20th century, including Saxbo, Palshus, Arne Bang, Hjorth, Ipsen, Kahler, Bode Willumsen, Finn Lynggaard, Christian Poulsen, Nymolle and others.
Royal Copenhagen is the oldest and largest of the ceramic factories in Denmark. It was founded in 1755 to reproduce French porcelain. In the late 19th century artistic ceramics became noteworthy.
Patrick Nordström (1870 – 1922) was born in Sweden but left in 1902 to establish his own studio in Denmark. In 1911 he was appointed as artistic director at Royal Copenhagen and he stayed until 1922, producing distinctive multicolored glazed stoneware. When he left, he established a new independent studio. His brilliant ceramics are forerunners in the mid-century biomorphism, and far from more traditional ceramics produced at that time.
Carl Hallier (1873 – 1948) moved to Denmark in 1898 establishing a small private studio. He joined Royal Copenhagen in 1913 as a thrower for Patrick Nordström, and succeeded Nordström in 1922. He stayed until 1926, when he established a studio with Arne Bang. He rejoined in 1930 and stayed until 1948, this time he also collaborated with Axel Salto.
Knud Kyhn (1880 – 1969 was a trained sculptor who worked at Royal Copenhagen for two rounds. First between 1903 and 1923, at the same time also contributing to Kahler Keramik and Bing and Grondahl. In 1925 he started his own studio, but he returned to Royal Copenhagen in 1935 where he stayed until his death in 1969.
Jais Nielsen (1895 – 1961) was a sculptor who worked for Royal Copenhagen between 1920 and 1928, and continued as a freelance until his death in 1961.His studio and production pieces often combined sculpting with throwing, using religious motifs. He also briefly throw for Saxbo in the early 1930’s.
Axel Salto (1889-1961) was trained as a graphic artist and had a dual career as a painter and ceramicist. He started out at Ipsen, moved to Bing and Grondahl between 1923 and 1925, then in Carl Heller workshop and Saxbo (1931-32). He joined Royal Copenhagen in 1933.Salto is, and has been for a long time, the most expensive Danish ceramicist. His organic fluted, budding and sprouting style was inspired by nature, and his glazes were mellow in earth-tone colors.
Nils Thorsson (1898 – 1975) joined Royal Copenhagen in 1912. His most famous production lines are made in matted glazed, incised and decorated stoneware in modern forms. Solberg was made in the 1930s, Aluminia in the 1950s and Tenera in the 1960s.
Gerd Bogelund (1923 – 1987) joined Royal Copenhagen when she still was attending Copenhagen Craftsmen School and remained there until 1942. She then joined Nathalie Krebs at Saxbo for two years and returned to Royal Copenhagen in 1946. She primarily made art stoneware and her work is part of many museum collections around the world.
In the 1960s and 70s designers like Grethe Meyer, Eva Staehr-Nielsen and Gertrud Vasegaard modernized Royal Copenhagen’s stoneware, porcelain and dinnerware.
In 1986 Royal Copenhagen bough Georg Jensen and in 1987 Bing and Grondahl. In 1997 they merged with Orrefors, Kosta Boda, BodaNova and Venini.
Bing and Grondahl was established in Copenhagen in 1853 by the Bing brothers and porcelain modeler Harald Bing. They started producing stoneware at the turn of the century. Gunnar Nylund began his career here in 1928, beginning a journey that ended in his rich and complex glazes at Rörstrand in the 1940s and 1950s. Nathalie Krebs learned about glazes between 1919 and 1929 that were later used at Saxbo. Around 1950 designers included Henning Koppel, Erik Magnussen and Gertrud Vasegaard.
Arne Bang (1901-1983) was trained at the Royal Academy of Arts as a sculptor. In 1926 he started his own studio with Carl Halier (Royal Copenhagen) and from 1929 he was also affiliated with Holmegaard Glasværk where his older brother Jacob Bang (1899 – 1965)was the artistic director. There he started experimenting with stoneware - his idea was to produce high-quality stoneware which could be purchased by 'ordinary' people, not expensive unique works.
Like his brother he was very prolific and also made sculptures and reliefs from the 1940's. The most well-known kind of pottery from his hand is monochrome bowls, vases and dishes with matte glaze and shaped with vertical ribs.
Saxbo was established in 1929 by Nathalie Krebs and Gunnar Nylund, but Gunnar left the company a year later for Swedish Rörstrand. In 1932 Eva Staehr-Nielsen joined Saxbo, and together they produced matte glazed stoneware with simple and bold forms. Later Edith Sonne Bruun and Kirsten Weeke joined the company and together they won a gold medal at the Milan Triennale in 1957. In 1968 Saxbo closed production.
Nymolle was established in 1936 by a retail company who wanted to produce inexpensive ceramics. When Jacob Bang was appointed as Director the course drastically changed into quality ceramics. He then employed Bjorn Wiinblad and Gunnar Nylund (between 1959 and 1974) among others. The company faced bankruptcy in 1976, but was saved by Wiinblad who bought it.
Palhus was founded in 1947 by husband and wife Per and Annelise Linnemann-Schmidt. They were inspired by Saxbo, and at their best their forms resembles Tobo forms and the haresfur glazes used by Berndt Friberg for Gustavsberg. The com