Purchase, The Charles E. Sampson Memorial Fund, 2001
Not on view
Stoneware was the preferred medium for many of the ceramic artists working in France in the decades around 1900. It was more durable than earthenware and easier to work than porcelain, which was far less pliable. Furthermore, the temperatures at which stoneware was fired allowed for spectacular glazing effects. Edmond Lachenal and his pupil Emile Decoeur were two of the many French ceramicists who learned to exploit the somewhat random and unpredictable qualities of stoneware glazes, which could produce highly mottled surfaces with pronounced variations of color and texture.
The complex and seemingly uncontrolled aspect of many of these glazes made them particularly appropriate for vessels in the Art Nouveau style, such as this example, in which naturalistic forms and asymmetry often prevailed. In this vase by Decoeur, the organic quality imparted by the sinuous, tendril-like handles is reinforced by the richly mottled glaze, in which purples merge into grays of varying intensity. Despite the subtle sculptural quality of the vase, the glaze rather than the form creates the primary aesthetic impact.
Marking: Stamped on bottom: LACHENAL
Impressed in ink on bottom: ED
Gertrud and Dr. Karl Funke-Kaiser (from 1975) ; [ Macklowe Gallery , New York, until 2001; sold to MMA ]