Lladró is one of Spain’s most extraordinary success stories that has, over the almost 60 years since its inception, produced a global export trade worth millions of euros. Given the numbers involved, it seems that the rest of the world is as enthusiastic about these finely crafted porcelain figurines as are its many aficionados in Spain.
In 1953 Juan, José and Vicente Lladró from the village of Almàssera, Valencia, started experimenting with a Moorish furnace in their home. This hobby is less surprising than it sounds, since the brothers were all workers in a local tile and crockery factory, but clearly looking for a more creative avenue for their skills. They found it when their weekend trials started attracting attention for all the right reasons.
By 1955 the Lladró brothers had started making delightfully delicate figurines in a style with clear 18th century influence that paid homage to the likes of Meissen, Sèvres and Capodimonte and took the spirit of classical European porcelain to a new generation of enthusiasts. The critical and popular acclaim they received eventually persuaded them to turn their hobby into a full-time occupation and set up in a warehouse in the neighbouring town of Tavernes Blanques, which today is home to the now-famous Lladró Museum.
Since then the company has gone from strength to strength, with Lladró figurines quickly becoming elegant souvenirs as Spain’s appeal as a holiday destination grew during the 1960s. In 1984 one child of each of the founders joined the company; Rosa, Mª Carmen and Juan Vicente Lladró had undergone a lengthy and demanding apprenticeship to ensure that the future success of the company was in safe hands.
Lladró has always been especially beloved by American collectors, so it isn’t surprising that New York’s Lladró Museum and Gallery on Manhattan’s 57th Street is constantly filled with fans: these characteristic figurines have also made guest appearances on some of America’s most popular TV programmes
In keeping with this status, some of the earlier Lladró pieces have attracted five figure sums at auction and it seems likely that the reputation of this famous Valencia company will continue to grow.