BY JUDY SECKLER
Beautiful. Delicate. Lifelike. From these traits, Lladró, maker of fine porcelain sculptures, has forged its identity. Since its start in the early ‘50s to the present, the family-owned company has produced artistic objects both admired and enjoyed by the public.
Part of the devotion springs from the company’s connection to its customers. Several times a year, Lladró President Rosa Lladró, a petite, elegantly dressed woman with a winning smile, visits Lladró retail shops to meet Lladró enthusiasts and sign sculptures.
She is the face of the company; the one who stands behind each sculpture assembled from hundreds of molded pieces and each hand painted stroke. She learns from her audiences which sculptures are favorites and collects suggestions for future ones.
All Lladró pieces are the fruit of a painstaking handmade process of creation, still carried out entirely in the workshops of The City of Porcelain in Valencia, Spain. Sculptures vary in size from very small to ones that stretch several feet wide on a tabletop.
The company continues its palette of glossy pastel colors, while also introducing brighter colors in matte or glossy finishes, depending on the theme. Some sculptures have accents of gold or silver leaf.
Sculptures explore many themes: angels, animals, history, fantasy, sports, religion, characters in literature, Japan-or India-inspired, Art Deco, to holidays. All possess the Lladró trademarks: expressive faces, a sense of movement, an aura of emotion, and exquisite detail handcrafted in the same manner as when the company started.
The public’s devo tion is also closely tied to the com pany’s adherence to handmade techniques, which were pioneered in Valencia, Spain, by Rosa’s father, Juan, and his two younger brothers, José and Vincente, beginning in 1953 with tile production. “But make no mistake”, says Rosa of her 83-year-old father, who arrives at the factory every day like clockwork, “I’m the president, but he’s the boss.”
By 1958, the company had outgrown its studio and moved to a larger space in the neighboring town of Tavernes Blanques. The brothers’ knowledge of ceramics was broadened with additional classes in porcelain techniques that increased their confidence to expand the brand to figurines and more elaborate sculptures.
The company’s artistic interpretations reflect a greater sophistication now and, by sticking to “universal subject matter,” it remains close to its legion of loyal customers and is destined to win the hearts of many more.