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SAINT CLOUD CHINAWARE - c. 1696-1773 (?)
HISTORY. "I saw the 1 of St. Cloud, with which I was marvelously well pleased, for I confess I could not distinguish betwixt the pots made there and the finest China ware I ever saw. It will, I know, be easily granted me that the painting may be better designed and finished (as indeed it was) because our men are far better masters of that art than the but the glazing came not in the least behind theirs, not for whiteness, nor the smoothness of running without bubbles. Again, the inward substance and matter of the pots was, to me, the very same, hard and firm as marble, and the selfsame grain on this side vitrification. Farther the transparency of the pots the very same. I did not expect to have found it in this perfection, but imagined this might have arrived at the Gomron ware; which is, indeed, little else but a total vitrification, but I found it far otherwise and very surprising, and which I account part of the felicity of the age to equal if not surpass the in their finest art.
They sold these pots at St. Cloud at excessive rates, and for their ordinary chocolate cups crowns apiece. They had arrived at the burning on gold in neat chequere works. He had sold some tea equipages at 100 livres a set. There was no molding or model of China ware which they had not imitated, and had added many fancies of their own, which had their good effects and appeared very beautiful."
Account of a journey to Paris in the Year 1698, by Doctor Martin Lister, published in London, 1699.
Besides this testimony to the merits and charms of Saint Cloud chinaware by the eminent Doctor Lister, who had accompanied the Duke of Portland to Paris on a diplomatic mission and was afterwards physician to Queen Anne, there is the witness of royal interest in the works and appreciation of its products. Le Mercure Galant, in October 1700, contains this notice:
"I have forgotten to write to you that the Duchess de Bourgogne, when she had passed through St. Goud and turned along the riverside to visit Madame la Duchess de Guiche, made her carriage stop at the door of the house where the MM. Chicanneau have had established for some years now a manufactory of fine porcelain, which without doubt has not its like in all Europe. The princess found pleasure in seeing several pieces of very good shape made on the wheel. She saw some others painted in patterns that were more regular and better done than those of the Indian porcelain. Then she went to see the faiences being made in the manufactory, and afterwards MM. Chicanneau conducted her into their office, where she saw quantities of fine and beautiful porcelains in their perfection, with which she was so pleased that she promised to come again. She did not leave without showing her satisfaction by the gratuities she gave to the workmen."
Established as it was under the shadow of the Chateau de Saint Cloud, the factory seems not only to have enjoyed a measure of interest and patronage from the Duc d'Orleans, but also to have attracted not a little favorable notice from the King and the great personages of the Court on their comings and goings between Versailles and Paris, and its success in a commercial sense was probably due in large measure to these advantageous circumstances.
The establishment at Saint Cloud began, it appears, as a faience factory. By 1670 it was important enough to be given a large commission for orange pots and flower vases for the gardens of Versailles, as well as being called upon to supply numerous other decorative requisites from time to time. Its wares justly deserved their high reputation.
Antiquarian research has discovered that there was a painter named Chicanneau in Poterat's factory at Rouen and it is thought that he there first found out the secrets of porcelain-making and then carried them to Saint Cloud. At all events, the letters-patent of 1696-from which year we may date the official manufacture of porcelain at the Saint Cloud factory-granted by Louis XIV to "Barbe Coudray, the widow of Pierre Chicanneau, and to Jean-Baptiste, Pierre and Genevieve Chicanneau, brothers and sisters, children of the aforesaid Coudray and the aforesaid Pierre Chicanneau, and the undertakers of the faience and porcelain works established at Saint Cloud," mention the porcelain-making experiments of Pierre Chicanneau the father, note his success in producing pieces approximating Chinese porcelain in excellence, and state that the children have carried on the work and, prior to the year 1696, "have arrived at the point of making porcelain of perfect quality."
Historical data regarding the porcelain works of Saint Cloud are not plentiful in contemporary French memoirs, but it appears that offshoots of the establishment at Saint Cloud were started in the faubourg St. Honore and in the faubourg St. Antoine in Paris, where similar wares were produced, by members of the Chicanneau family. These splits were seemingly caused by family dissension's with ensuing legal processes and great expense. It is said that the factory at Saint Cloud was destroyed by fire in 1773 and that the owners, thanks to long wrangling and law costs, had not money enough to rebuild it. This misfortune presumably put an end to the manufacture of Saint Cloud china. The Saint Cloud works, however, can boast the distinction of having been the first French enterprise of the sort that succeeded in maintaining a long continued existence.
THE BODY. The china of Saint Cloud is one of the soft paste porcelains. It has a creamlike yellowish tinge,and where chipped or broken the fracture shows a close, regular granular texture.
THE GLAZE. The glaze is clear and shows very few bubbles to break its evenness. It is more brilliant than the Rouen glaze and has a very slight creamy tinge. Blisters rarely occur. There seems also to have been some use of colored glazes for there is in the Victoria and Albert Museum a little water jug, with attached cover, molded top and bottom, with an overlapping scale or pineapple skin motif, and covered with a pale green glaze, evidently made in emulation of the old Chinese Celadon ware.
ARTICLES MADE AND CONTOUR. The articles most commonly made at the Saint Cloud factory included cups, saucers, jugs, teapots, coffee pots, chocolate pots, tea, coffee and chocolate services, trays, dishes, plates, platters, tureens, sugar-bowls or basins and tableware generally, knife handles, statuettes, grotesques, vases, bowls and flowerpots.
Porcelain figures are said to have been first fashioned at Saint Cloud and, between 1710 and 1724 under the direction of Dominique Chicanneau, "all other kinds of imaginable things." Grotesque figures and branched candlesticks in the form of tree trunks appeared, it is stated, as early as 1731, but these branched candlesticks mentioned by contemporary writers seem not to have survived.
The contours of the various pieces were at first mainly of Chinese derivation for European china-makers at the outset, almost without exception, tried to reproduce both Oriental shapes and Oriental decoration as nearly as they could in order to compete with the china imported from the East.
Later there was a gradual modification and an addition of shapes less distinctively Chinese and more European in character. It is worth noting that at Saint Cloud the same contours and the same decorations were continued in use over a long period of time.
METHODS AND TYPES OF DECORATION. White pieces with modeled ornament, were produced in fairly numerous quantity, evidently inspired by the white ware of Fuchien , which was greatly admired in Europe. These pieces depended for their charm on the molded and applied ornaments and included such objects as small figures or statuettes, knife handles, cups, saucers, covered jars, jugs, bowls and sugar dishes, and flowerpots. Prunus blossoms and sprigs in relief, flowers, sprays and rosettes appeared on the porcelain surface.
While the plain white ware decorated with applied relief's (I) met with favor, a great many of the pieces bearing molded relief's were also enriched with patterns in underglaze blue (2), the color decoration being so disposed as to accentuate the value of the modeling (3) A few of the pieces with modeled relief's were decorated with red, yellow, purple, green and dark brown along with the blue. (4) Pieces of Chinese shape, but without molded relief's, bore polychrome decorations, for the most part in designs closely copied from Chinese models. (5) A later development employed European designs, blue and polychrome, in the lighter and more graceful motifs of the Baroque manner, that characterized the reign of Louis XIV; these appeared first on pieces of Chinese shape. Together with these patterns and modified shapes (6), a more flowing manner of modeled relief's came into use, the combination resulting in what was, perhaps, the most typical phase of Saint Cloud chinaware.
THE MARKS. The marks were carelessly used and are not certain guides. A sun pressed into the paste was the first mark. A later mark consisted of the letters S C, in blue, with a small cross above and the letter T underneath. In company with this mark are often found numbers or detached letters, which may be the numbers of certain patterns or the initials of the decorators. Sometimes these blue initials are surrounded by little crosses. A fleur-de-lis is said to have been used sometimes but some doubt exists on this score.