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Haviland's Faience And Porcelain
( Article orginally published June 1957 )
In the exhibit of the faience or glaze earthenware and porcelain of Limoges, made by HAVILAND & CO., are to be found the most striking productions of the present ceramic artists of France. To them we owe the inimitable Henri Deux ware, or Faience d'Oiron, the wonderful works of Palissy, and the porcelain of Sevres. The artists of Limoges are in full harmony with the traditions of their country.
The manufacture of faience was instituted at Limoges about one hundred and forty years ago, but does not appear to have been carried on with very great success. About thirty years later the making of porcelain was introduced, and for some time the manufactory of Limoges was a branch of the royal works at Sevres. Subsequently it was disposed of by the government, and since that date Limoges has been chiefly known to the commercial world as an important centre of the porcelain industry. Its productions have been introduced into this country and made widely known by the enterprise of the manufacturers. More recently their attention was fortunately turned to faience, and upon their works in that kind of ware the future reputation of Limoges will unquestionably stand.
It may be premised that the process by which the faience vases are produced is entirely new. The great difficulty formerly attending the decoration of earthenware - that of estimating the effect of the action of the fire upon the colors - has been successfully overcome. Not only is the result of the final firing anticipated with certainty, but the distinguishing styles of different artists are preserved as faithfully and minutely as if the paintings were executed upon canvas. With all the originality of Palissy the artists of Limoges combine the great potter's readiness to accept the suggestions of nature. Their creations are, however of a totally different order. One vase is simply decorated with a flower spray in relief admirably colored, and has coiled snakes for handles. Another has a similar floral wreath, and on the flowers at either side are butterflies. A very beautiful and unique pair shows the figures of Phoebus and Luna, beautifully modeled and left in unglazed, relief. On others are dogs in various attitudes, realistic and full of action. One presents us with a chubby Cupid, his bow drawn full to the shoulder, and another with a woman throwing food to poultry. In the last two the flesh tint is especially remarkable. Such are a few out of a multitude of examples. They show that the French artists, among whom are BRACQUEMOND, CHAPLET, DELAPLANCHE, LINDENCHER and LAFON, have entered upon a course which has already led to great result and must hereafter lead to greater. Of the same kind of ware are the massive, vigorously treated memorial vases which lend a Centennial character to the entire exhibit. They are respectively intended to commemorate the gaining of independence and the close of the first century of its enjoyment by the United States. No more appropriate records of the present year could be placed in Memorial Hall.
HAVILAND'S porcelain is too well known to require extended notice. He has, however, some beautifully painted vases of very graceful form. The ornamentation of his table sets is characterized by great chasteness. PALLANDRE decorated one set and BRACQUEMOND, another; and by the latter artist are twelve plates, with pictures of "Morning," "Night," "A Thunderstorm," etc., painted with great delicacy and originality.
The examples of pate tendre are exceptionally interesting, and many of them are very attractive. A toilet set and a Psyche in turquois blue represent an achievement in color which has for centuries occupied the attention of artists. By reason of the exquisite softness of tints attainable on pate tendre it is eminently adapted to fine decoration, but it has hitherto been found that this advantage is counterbalanced by its difficulty of manufacture. The pieces above mentioned and some of the large vases are interesting, therefore, apart altogether from their artistic beauty, as remarkable examples of skillful manipulation.