Founded in 1953 by brothers Juan, José, and Vicente Lladró on the outskirts of Valencia, Spain, the Lladró porcelain company initially produced functional ceramics like vases and serving platters. In 1955, the Lladró brothers first ventured into figurines, with pieces reviving the style of famous 18th-century manufacturers like Meissen and Capodimonte.
During the late 1950s, Lladró established a novel firing technique that reduced the three-layer process to a single layer infused with pastel tones. Around the same time, the brothers also adopted an official logo featuring the name “Porcelanas Lladró” over an image of the famous Nike of Samothrace sculpture. As the company’s reputation and export market grew in the 1960s, “Spain” was also incorporated into the logo.
By this time, the Lladró style of oversized figures with stylized lines and pastel hues was well established. Lladró opened its “City of Porcelain” in 1969, which included an office and workshop space along with leisure and sport facilities for workers. In the 1970s, the company launched a new “Gres” line of porcelain, which was used for even larger sculptures with a matte finish and earth-tone palette. Lladró also transitioned to a simpler blue mark on the base of its pieces during this decade, featuring a bell-shaped flower and an ancient chemical symbol.
One of Lladró’s remarkable technical achievements was the “Flowers of the Season” series in 1982, which includes bouquets of tiny hand-sculpted flowers on each piece. The Lladró Collectors Society was formed in 1985, coinciding with the release of an annual, limited-edition series. The first release of the series featured a melancholic clown with puppies peeking from his pockets entitled “Little Pals.”
Throughout the 1980s, the company continued to expand overseas, opening a museum and gallery space in New York City in 1986. During the 1990s, Lladró pieces were added to the collections of world-renowned museums, like the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Today, some of the company’s most recognizable figures include its romantic wedding couples, nativity and biblical scenes, and a Don Quixote series.