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An important porcelain Alcora bust of The 10th Count of Aranda, Don Pedro Pablo Abarca de Bolea y Jiménez de Urréa, Conde de Aranda (y de Castelflorido) and Marqués de Torres, de Vellanant y de Rupit.

Attributed toJoaquín Ferrerc.1790. 

Real Fabrica del Alcora. Soft-paste porcelain.(1727-1895)  44cm High

The 9th Count of Aranda, opened a faience factory in Alcora, in Southern Spain in 1727. On his father’s death in 1749, the new and 10th Count experimented in making a porcelain body. However, he only succeeded in making a soft-paste porcelain in 1775.

In 1751 François Haly, a Frenchman from Nevers was engaged at the manufactory. J.C. Kniffer, an arcanist and painter from Frankenthal and Ludwigsburg in Germany, joined the factory in 1764, discovering the porcelain-making secret in 1775.  

Joaquin Ferrer, one of the major figure modellers at the factory, produced busts of the Count Aranda and the Duke of Hijar.  

The soft-paste porcelain flat-wares produced at Alcora in the late 18thCentury were not dissimilar to the porcelains made at the Mennecy factory in Paris, at times sharing a similar creamy-looking paste and a comparable palette, a strong pink being a speciality.   

The Count of Aranda in his role as the Spanish Ambassador, Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to France, visited  Paris between the years 1773-1787. He was also a principal advisor to King Carlos III of Spain. 

Aranda as a wealthy nobleman, soldier and an accomplished diplomat with a reputation for liberal ideals, would easily have had entrée to the Salons of Paris. Here he would have been aware of the ceramic portrait busts that were in vogue at this time.

As owner of a ceramic establishment, he would have been keen to have himself portrayed in porcelain - from his very own factory.     

During his stay in Paris, he acquired two services of Sèvres porcelain; one he bought in 1775, the other was a diplomatic gift from Louis XVI in 1787, via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which marked the conclusion of his ambassadorship. 

On 13thApril 1756, he was awarded The Order of the Golden Fleece and on 2ndFebruary 1777 he was given The Order of the Holy Spirit, which was presented to him  by Louis XVI. Both of these can be seen, proudly worn in his portrait bust. 

Other busts of the Count Aranda are represented in the following museums:   

Museo Arqueológico Nacional of Madrid: A soft-paste porcelain.

Musée de Cèramique, Cité de cèramique Sèvres:A pipe-clay body. 

Museo Bellas Artes Castellon, Spain; two in biscuit ceramic

The Spanish Hispanic Society New York:A polychrome soft-paste porcelain 

The Palace at Épila, Spain,A biscuit model, coloured black.

Portraits of the 10thCount of Aranda show a good likeness to his ceramic bust. See: A portrait of the Count of Aranda, by José María Galván; And a portrait of the Count of Aranda by Ramón Bayeu, Museo de Huesca.

Literature:  Alice Wilson Frothingham, The Count of Aranda: Portraits in Alcora 1960  


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