Purchase, Friends of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts and Robert L. Isaacson Gifts, 1992
Not on view
Determined that pottery vessels should be regarded as true works of art, avant-garde ceramicists in France in the last decades of the nineteenth century transformed their craft into an intellectual and emotional endeavor. The pioneers of this revival were Jean Carriès, Ernest Chaplet, Théodore Deck, and Auguste Delaherche. These revolutionary artist-potters embraced artisanal traditions while pursuing lost techniques through exhaustive experimentation. Reacting to what they viewed as an excessive and improper use of ornament, they celebrated the simplicity and sincerity of their medium, following the tenets of the Art Nouveau style taking place in Europe. Based on the principles of the British Arts and Crafts movement, Art Nouveau artists sought to reform the decorative arts by emphasizing uniqueness and a return to craftsmanship. Artist-potters found inspiration in Asian ceramics, particularly Japanese stoneware (a hard, dense type of pottery), which was shown in 1878 at the Exposition Universelle in Paris, as well as in the forms, glazes, and techniques of Chinese porcelain and pottery. They also looked to European traditions such as the rustic salt-glazed stoneware of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and Gothic sculpture and architecture. In the process they created works of ceramic art that were entirely modern and new.
Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings
Marking: Incised and filled in blue on underside: TH [conjoined] • DECK / 1866
[ Martin Shopland , London, until 1992; sold to MMA ]