In 1881 Michał Piotr Radziwiłł established on his grounds a large carpenter’s shop called a “sculpture centre” and the workshop of artistic majolica. Establishing those workshops was based on the popular positivist ideals of ‘organic work” and “starting from the basics”, accompanied by the search for a Polish version of “art adapted for industry”. Both workshops were creating products expliting the unique patterns, employing local talented craftsmen and gifted artists from the poor landed gentry and the inhabitants of the villages.
The ’Sculpture centre’, where the main roles belonged to extremely talented local and wood–carver Józef Trynkowski and sculptor Józef Demczyński, between 1880 and 1885 produced a number of original furniture designed by the duke as well as replicas of pieces of Gdańsk furniture and old English and French furniture. The great achievement of Trynkowski and Demczyński were ornamenting the palace’s lower entrance-hall with rich panelling in black oak and wooden equipment of the local church.
Activated in 1881 in Nieborów the workshop of artistic majolica was managed by the son of Polish political emigrant Stanisław Thiele who was an expert in the melt of majolica ceramics. The workshop employed workers and decorators from among talented young inhabitants of local villages and the students of Szkoła Rysunkowa Wojciecha Gersona (Wojciech Gerson's Drawing School) and it worked very effectively till 1885 delivering its products to the large parts of Polish Kingdom and western province of Russian Empire. To crown the activity of the workshop the great exhibition of majolica products was organised in June 1884 in European Hotel in Warsaw. In 1886 production stopped because of market saturation and the change in the tastes of the clients. The duke sold a part of tools to Stanisław Thiele who on his own but without success produced majolica till 1897.
In the heyday the workshop produced stoves, fireplaces, vases and amphorae, jardinière, plates and small objects for use and decoration. Designing and decorating on a small scale was the domain of the duke the owner and Stanislaw Thiele, there was also a sculptor Sławomir Celiński responsible for shaping model forms. Decorating was also done by painters-decorators among which the most gifted were Franciszek Szewczyk, Józef Demczyński, Jadwiga Hyżycka, sisters Celina and Jakóbina Zarembiankas, Julia Suska. The products from workshop in Nieborów were signed till 1885 with the trade mark MPR (Michał Piotr Radziwiłł) crowned with the duke’s mitre and since 1886 this signature was joined with signature ST (Stanisław Thiele). Since 1889 the signature ST was used alone. Next to these signs one can often come across the signatures of painters-decorators and sometimes numbers – dates or series of products.
The Nieborów ceramics was produced from local potters clay processed in a way typical for majolica technology – the piece was formed in a temperature range 800 to 900°C, then it was covered with glaze, decorated with metal oxides and fired one again in so called ‘great fire’ in a temperature range 1000 to 1100°C. During this process the dyes oxidize melt into the enamel. The colours were defined by the range of colours used to paint the metal oxides: Iron (red), cobalt (light blue), copper (green), antimony (yellow) and manganese (purple and black). The forms and motives at the beginning were based on historical patterns of majolica workshops from Italy such as those in Castel Durante, Urbino, Faenzie, French workshops in Nevers, Moustiers and Rouen as well as Dutch in Delft. Later, under the pressure of critical press by Bolesław Prus the duke changed decorative motifs to those of a patriotic and national character, Polish history, local landscape and everyday life.
In 1903-1906 the workshop was reactivated by a well-known sculptor Stanisław Jagmin who produced ceramics not glazed based on the forms from Celtic and pre-Slavic excavations. Later he produced modern Art Noveau ceramics with the use of multicoloured decorative glaze so-called ‘flambé’.
In September 1982 one hundred years after opening the workshop we reactivated another workshop of artistic ceramics in Nieborów. That third workshop equipped with electric stoves and other modern devices for majolica production is situated in renovated building of the old workshop where it works till today. Copies of original products, decorative ceramic forms and souvenirs are produced in the workshop. It was first managed by the painter - Teresa Szałowska and later between 1987 and 1992 by the sculptor specializing in artistic ceramics–Krystyna Marek-Andrzejewska. One of the achievements of this third workshop is organising open air workshop of ceramics in Nieborów with participation of great artists working on ceramics.
In December 1985 in the spacious hall of the old painting room of the workshop a studio exhibition of furniture and artistic majolica of Michał Piotr Radziwiłł’s workshops, Art Noveau ceramics of Stanisław Jagmin and selected products of contemporary artistic ceramics workshop in Nieborów was organised. The exhibition received a diploma of honour from the Minister of Culture and Art for ‘the most interesitng museal event of the year’.