Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Advertisement for Muller Stoneware Manufactory

Artist:
Alexandre-Louis-Marie Charpentier (French, Paris 1856–1909 Neuilly)
Date:
1897
Culture:
French, Ivry
Medium:
Glazed stoneware
Dimensions:
36 × 25 3/8 in. (91.4 × 64.5 cm)
Classification:
Sculpture
Credit Line:
Purchase, Robert L. Isaacson Gift, 1988
Accession Number:
1989.8
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 556
Toward the close of the nineteenth century, the humble medium of stoneware—grès in French—won the attention of sculptors because of its earthy honesty and its capacity for reproducing the subtlest contours. The trade in stoneware sculptures grew so promising that the large firm of Emile Muller chose to advertise them along with the tiles and moldings for which it was known. This relief has chunks of masonry plaster on its back and must have been walled-in, possibly in Muller's showroom, as a sort of three-dimensional poster.

In turning to Charpentier, the firm obtained the services of the most gifted anatomist among Art Nouveau sculptors. The olive-hued relief shows a remarkable tension between the tousled, sinewy youth and the bands of lettering. The boy holds a bulky tile while proffering a Phidian statuette of Athena, a fine expression of the union of art and industrial design that was beginning to be advanced as an ideal. Charpentier disseminated the design in bronze plaquettes, the art form for which he is usually remembered. The plaquette in the Museum's collection (03.7.26) is but a pale reflection, showing little of the virile presence of the larger invention.
Signature: Inscribed at bottom right: Alexandre/ Charpentier/ 1897
[ David and Constance Yates , New York, until 1989; sold to MMA ]
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