In the village of Audun-le-Tiche in Lorraine, the trained foundryman François Boch decides to swap his trade – the manufacturing of bombs – for something rather more peaceful. As the "Bombardier du Roi," he advanced to the post of mayor. But for his sons Pierre-Joseph, Dominique and Jean-François, he has a better future in mind than the tough, dangerous work in the steel works, and so the Bochs started to manufacture ceramics.
At the age of 27, Jean-François Boch purchases the Benedictine abbey in Mettlach, which is situated directly on the banks of the River Saar. This marks a turning point for an entire industry. Inside the baroque building, the graduate in natural sciences establishes state-of-the-art ceramic production facilities that set new technical standards – from manual labour emerges industrial production. The Abbey remains as the headquarters of Villeroy & Boch AG.
On 14 April, the successful international businessmen Nicolas Villeroy and Jean-François Boch draw up deeds to merge their two companies, thus forming Villeroy & Boch. The former rivals join forces under one roof. With creativity, entrepreneurial spirit, innovation and high production capacities, they succeed in establishing one of the first global players of the 19th century.
Vincent van Gogh paints one of his most famous paintings, "The Poet." The painting portrays his friend Eugène Boch. "I should like to paint the portrait of an artist friend, a man who dreams great dreams, who works as the nightingale sings," writes van Gogh in a letter to his brother Théo. From this point on, the artist carries the picture of Eugène with him wherever he goes. Today, it is hanging in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.
Villeroy & Boch is commissioned to design the flooring of the cathedral. The importance of this building cannot be overestimated. Following the bitter defeats against Napoleon's armies, completion of construction work on the cathedral symbolizes the people's desire for a unified Germany.
Over a period of five years, a floor mosaic -covering a total of 1,300 m2 and depicting the medieval view of the cosmos and the history of the archdiocese of Cologne - is designed, manufactured and laid.
Tsar Nicholas II of Russia visits Germany with his family. Because he obviously does not want to go without fresh milk on his travels, he takes two of his own cows along with him in his royal train. To accommodate them, one of the carriages in the royal train is specially converted into a travelling cowshed, with white and blue Mettlach tiles on the floor and the walls.
The RMS Titanic sets sail on 10 April on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York. The sinking of what was the largest ship in the world at the time has made it one of the most famous ships of all time.
Also on board: Mettlach tiles. Based on Roman floor tile mosaics, these were designed in the mid-19th century by Eugène Boch and have now risen to popularity in high society. No surprise then that these luxurious, high-quality tiles were at the feet of the aristocracy and wealthy nobility on board the famous Titanic.
Great Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip visit Germany. During this state visit, Villeroy & Boch sends tiles adorned with engravings of old cogs to Prince Philip, who has a great love of pictures of old ships. Visibly delighted, the Prince has a letter of thanks sent to the company:
"Dear Sirs, the Duke of Edinburgh has asked me to thank you for the beautiful tiles you sent him. This was very kind of you, and I know that His Royal Highness is most obliged to you for this gift."
Distinguished visitors at Villeroy & Boch in Luxembourg. On 2 March, the Queen of Belgium, accompanied by the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg, makes a private visit to the Septfontaines factory.
Before viewing the production facilities, the Queen visits the exhibition area, where she orders a set of tableware for 24 people from the Sevilla collection for her country house in Spain, as well as a breakfast set for two from the latest collection produced at the plant, Acapulco.
Lady Diana is just 19 years old when she marries Prince Charles on 29 July, becoming the Princess of Wales. Breakfast will be served to the world-famous married couple on the yellow and green "Geranium" tableware collection from Villeroy & Boch – in keeping with the young princess's wishes and as requested on the gift list for her dream wedding.
Queen Sirikit of Thailand is visiting the UK. During a flying visit to London, she chooses to purchase a Villeroy & Boch dinner service. Of course she opts for one of the most beautiful collections – "Siena," with its sumptuous marble décor.
The Rothschilds are one of the richest families in the world and the owners of the renowned wine-growing estate Château Clarke. Baron Edmond de Rothschild, the owner of the estate, is a man of exceptional taste, as evidenced by his excellent red wines, but also by his creative ideas.
It was he who came up with the main idea for a special tableware design that depicts the world of wine in a natural way. This inspiration evolved into the Château Clarke set, a joint creation of Villeroy & Boch and Baron de Rothschild.
In Shanghai, the Bath & Wellness division of the company opens the first Villeroy & Boch dealership in China. This step into the demanding and highly brand-conscious Chinese market is another milestone in this company's long history.
For the long-standing company, which is one of the world's most prestigious premium brands and represents the highest quality of life, this represents another systematic step on the road towards establishing itself as a long-term player in international growth markets.
Wendelin von Boch personally delivers a papal tableware set to Benedict XVI that has been specially designed to meet the exceptional standards associated with this high spiritual office.
The delivery of tableware to the Pope is a longstanding tradition at Villeroy & Boch. Special collections have already been designed for four Popes in the past, starting with Pius XII (1955), followed by John XXIII (1959), Paul VI (1964) and Pope John Paul II in 1980.