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Collecting Old Continental Pottery
Henri Deux Ware, Etc.
Paris And Its Environs
Glazed Pottery Of France
Stoneware Of Germany
German And Other Guilds
SWEDEN, DENMARK, SWITZERLAND:
Stockholm, Rorstrand, and Marieberg
Delft: The Old Signs Of The Potters
Majolica And Luca Della Robia
Naples, Rimini, Monte Feltro, And Forli
Siena, Monte Lupo, And Pisa
Fabriano, Viterbo, Rome
Venice, Treviso, Bassano, Milan, Etc.
PERSIA AND DAMASCUS:
Persia And Damascus
Persian And Other Tiles
Rhodes, Asiatic Turkey, Etc.
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
During the sixteenth century, in France, the potter's art was patronised by Francois L, who secured the services of Girolamo della Robbia for the decoration of his Chateau of Madrid at Paris, which was destroyed in 1792, the faience plaques being broken to pieces. The masterpotter died in 1567, twenty years after his patron had passed away. If he had lived in France during those years, he would have seen the whole of the reign of Henry IL, the son and successor of Francois, and he might have known his wife, Catherine de' Medici ; for Luca della Robbia was employed by the Medici at Caffaggiolo. Indeed the patronage extended to the fine arts by this noble family conduced in no small measure to the Renaissance in Italy, the effects of which extended to France, where majolica was made by artists, who brought their art with them from Caffaggiolo, from Faenza, Gubbio, and other fabriques. But curiously enough, only one French fabrique, at Nevers, continued the manufacture of majolica in the Urbino style for a long period. Traces of its making have been found at Lyons, Amboise, Croisic, Rennes, and elsewhere.
Before sketching the other styles of French faience besides the Italian, we have to consider one which stands alone in a class by itself-the inlaid faience of Oiron, also known as Henri Deux ware. The illustrations will show something of the beauty of the designs, something of the character of the inlaying and modelling, but you must visit the museums if you wish to understand the nature of the white clay, the quality of the glaze, and the astonishing skill displayed upon the inlaid ornament-of the richest quality, peculiar, individual, unique. Accompanying this red-brown inlaid work are masks and mouldings in relief, scrolls and figures of Cupids, and often there is a medallion in the centre of the piece upon which appears the usual device of the three interlaced crescents of Henry IL, who died in 1559, after reigning twelve years. Such ceramic art must have been the work of a great master, though who he was still remains doubtful. Let us examine the evidence which has been discovered by M. Fillon.
He carried out his researches at the castle of Oiron, near Thouars, and traced the existence from the early years of the sixteenth century of a fabrique, which had been established under the protection of Helene d'Hangest, the widow of Arthur Gouffier, Grand Master of France, the mother of the Grand Equerry or squire, and the governess of Henry II. This dame, who lived during the summer at the castle of Oiron, which she and her son Claude beautified, converted a part of her home into an atelier for pottery. In the year 1529 she made a gift of a house and an orchard to a French potter named Cherpentier, whose kilns and workshops were there established. Associated with him as director was Jehan Bernart, the keeper of the library at Oiron, who, aided by Helene d'Hangest, chose the designs, the coats-of-arms, the monograms, which decorate the greater part of these precious objects, which were presented to her friends, neighbors, and tenants as tokens of her esteem and as rare specimens of faience from the fabrique with which she, as patron, was connected. When she died in 1537 her son Claude Gouffier assumed the patronage and continued the work. To him must be ascribed many of the examples of this faience which have been preserved to our days.
Shortly related as is the story, it tells nothing of excavations nor of finds of fragments of old ware in situ. The tiles of enamelled pottery shown at the Cluny Museum, which came from the castle of Oiron, are specimens from the oratory. Each tile bears one of the letters of the motto of the Gouffiers, the lords of Oiron, HIC TERMINUS HAERET ; but though they are decorated with arabesques and wreathed designs, there appears to be little to connect them with the ware, though it is assumed that Bernart designed both. Bearing in mind that the dame died ten years before Henry II. ascended the throne, the crescented Henri Deux ware, if a product of Oiron, must have been made under the direction of her son. No particulars of the potter Cherpentier, the man into whose hands fell all. of this intricate and difficult work, are available. The grooved or sunken patterns into which the reddish clay was inserted are exceedingly complex, recalling the work of an inlayer in metal; the masks, scrolls, straps, and Cupids are reminiscent of the silversmith. All these considerations suggest doubts, in the absence of proof from excavations on the site of the old works; for in a rural district an almost unknown potter, engaged in producing a new ware with original decoration, must have created heaps of " wasters." No uncertainty surrounds the fact that, regardless of its name, the ware is French, a marvel of that ceramic art which, like its maker, was a bird of passage, without father, without mother, and without descent.
As the various styles of decoration of the other French faience are treated more fully under their separate sections, we need only point out that the lesser f fabriques adopted the designs of the greater, and where no mark was used their finest productions cannot be distinguished the one from the other. China, Japan, and Persia were the countries from which came the original designs used in the decoration of French wares, outside those already mentioned. The Far East supplied porcelain and pottery, the Near East faience and textile fabrics, carpets, embroideries, and the like. Yet due regard must be paid to the influence of the home artist in gold, silver, and enamel, for more or less it affected the potter, because he imitated both the forms and the decoration which appeared upon metal-work.
One genre of Rouen was this reproduction on faience of large flowers, bouquets, and curved strokes, such as are seen on old silver. But the distinct type of Rouen is embroidery patterns, known as lambrequins and lace. These were imitated in many French towns, and beyond, in Holland and Belgium. Fine pieces in blue, red, and gold from Delft vie with this class of Rouen faience. From the Oriental original another genre was developed, in which the cornucopia occupies a conspicuous part-hence its name, d la corne.
Nevers, like Rouen, borrowed mythological and familiar subjects and surrounded them with large flowers, in imitation of the Italian school, but it also maintained its unique position in France with regard to majolica; it made ware decorated after that of Urbino. The distinctive type of Nevers ware is that which has its white enamel painting on a blue enamel ground The blue is styled bleu de Perse, though it is very like the blue enamel used by enamellers on metal in France at that time. Yet the Persian character of much of the decoration cannot be denied. Recognising white on a blue ground as typical Nevers decoration, it must be remembered that blue on a white ground was also extensively practised as an effective form of ornament, in Chinese figures, chases of wild animals, peacocks, and flowers. Then note the rococo or rocaille forms of handles and knobs, which, with much besides, marked the eighteenth century as the period of rococo. Roche and coquille, rock and shell, gave rise to much curved decoration, in a general reaction against the straightness and stiffness of former times.
In the south, at Moustiers and Marseilles, the genre Berain distinguished the wares which were painted in blue with designs after that master of decorative ornament, whose graceful figures and lambrequins were especially favoured at Moustiers. Figures playing various instruments, grotesque figures and chimeras, shared the artist's schemes with porticoes, coats-of-arms, and flowers in bouquets and garlands. Marseilles had a genre rocaille painted in rose camaieu, with ornament in relief and flowers in colours. Similar polychrome decoration accompanied openwork ornament. Much of the faience produced at these two places corresponded in the style of its painting, but the sea-port excelled in its fine figures of animals, fruit, etc., modelled and coloured after nature. Pass now to Strasburg.
After the capitulation of Paris, on January 25, 1871, when peace was concluded between France and Germany, the reunion of Alsace and German Lorraine with the German Empire was completed. Hence Strasburg and Metz, their fortified capitals, with several towns in which faience was made, became German, though they were French when they made the faience. It remains French because of this, and Strasburg had then its peculiar genre, a decoration which falls below that applied to porcelain and does not quite reach the beauty which results from the enamelling of the muffle oven. In the ordinary ware, the flowers in colours are outlined in black and somewhat carelessly painted; but the best ware, with its fine red and brilliant green, its good paste and glaze, and its ornament in relief, made a reputation to which its many imitators testify. One of its most charming creations was its baskets, round or oval, with open-work and trellis-work and flowers in relief.
The map of France shows nearly every town which was authorised by letters patent to undertake the establishment of a fabrique. Little or nothing else is known of some of them, but it is quite possible that local discoveries will yield information in the time to come. Local records, the identification of a local mark, the wasters, and the broken fragments found in the ruins of the old works, may be waiting for the man who will follow the example of Jacquemart and other distinguished Frenchmen, whose debtors we remain.