Wednesday, 11 March 2009

A little secret crush...

Many thanks to all of you for your sweet comments regarding my last post. I plan to be in Dallas with bells on and hopefully Ben in tow! The little tidbits I've heard about the collections we will be visiting have me drooling and I can't wait to see all of the other wonderful QCI members again.

I told you all a little bit about why I like Quimper faience in my last post. The more that I learn about Bretagne, the more I appreciate how well the faience captures that spirit and Breton personality. The way that the faienceries kept current with the modes of the time and also recognized the best artists that Bretagne had to offer in all mediums really impresses me. To think that they recognized the best sculptors and painters of the time and asked them to create new faience works really says a lot about the craft. Its just not something that you see on British transferware for example. And the pieces by the Porquier-Beau faiencerie are really outstanding, a class unto themselves.

But yet, despite all of that, I must admit that it is really the Malicorne pieces that get my heart aflutter. Now the purists will say that is scandalous, "They're forgeries after all!" and the more forgiving will call them copies but I think that one hundred years on we can appreciate them for their own artistic place in the world of French faience. And the bit of legal history between Porquier-Beau and Pouplard-Beatrix just makes them all the more interesting. There just is something about the deep red clay, crackled glaze and intense, matte colors that really speaks to me. Somehow they seem more handcrafted, more organic than their more perfect upmarket cousins. My absolutely favorite stop at the 2007 QCI meeting was the collection that Alain Champion had arranged for us to see. It was the cutest fairy tale home filled with some of the best Malicorne I have ever seen. If like me, you have a little sweet spot for Malicorne, you will certainly enjoy Alain's book "Leon Pouplard, faiencier a Malicorne" and a must see is the Malicorne museum in the town of the same name.

My favorite piece is a plate that I bought in the South of France of all places, from a dealer who didn't quite know where the "tres belle" piece came from. The center of the plate is of a couple possibly in the beginning stages of a courtship. He is holding her hand and gazing into her eyes, she is nervously twirling the tie on her apron. You wonder what she is thinking. Should I really let him hold my hand? Is he being sincere or is he just too suave? It seems as if she will blush at any moment. Or is he proposing and her heart is pounding with nervousness? I admit, it was a piece that I truly hope wouldn't sell as I coveted it for my own collection. Was it the most valuable piece I had, no, but it spoke to me. Really, isn't that the true essence of collecting?

Another thing that I love about faience in general is the various forms that it comes in. No settling for the flat surface of a plate for the French. Several years ago, I purchased a sweet little Malicorne quintal vase from Judy Datesman that I hold ready for the season's first camellias. On the walls of our living room, we have a collection of PBx plates with Breton figures and the lovely leaf and acorn border. I enjoy comparing the figures to the engravings by Lalaisse trying to decide where they would have resided in Bretagne. On our little writing desk, there is a beautiful double scallop shell server with a leaf handle from Formaintroux Freres in Desvres along with a recent Quimper lamp and inkwell (though my decorator would die if she knew I was showing you my temporary tiebacks on the drapes). Faience will fit into any decor, even the most modern depending on the artist and era which you choose. Don't be afraid to mix things up a bit. If you love it, use it!

So what is your favorite piece? the one you secretly love the most? How do you display your collection or use it in your everyday life?
A bientot,


  1. Hi Trisha, You are not the only Malicorne fan. There are many of us around. The colors are so soft and soothing that it also speaks to me as well. I think once Millie Mali said if she was a beginning collector today she might also start with Malicorne.....we are in good company. Looking forward to seeing you in Dallas. I am not good enough yet on this blog thing to figure out photos...maybe someday. Enjoy all your posts.

    a bientot
    Diane Robinson

  2. In our everyday life, I am very attached to 3 small HB ramekins circa 1930 that I bought at auction - there were 4 of them, and it's nice that the one I broke was the one that already had damage. One ramekin goes on our breakfast tray every morning, and our crabby kitty gets his breakfast milk in it, which he drinks while we are having our tea!

  3. Trisha,
    Yes, there are many of us that adore Malicorne with its soft colors, detailed paintings, and special charm. More than once I’ve rendezvoused with Alain Champion in Paris to make a purchase of this delightful pottery. From the steps of the Grand Palais or lunchtime at a Bistro to perhaps a park bench….exchanges of euros for faience have transacted. In my collection is a small jardinière with serpent handles and lovely blue border. One side is painted with a botanical and the other with the same scene of the young couple as is on your plate. Hummm….I think I found this little jewel on a Parisian park bench! Like you, Malicorne can make my heart all aflutter! J' adore Malicorne! Thank you for hosting the blog. I enjoy your postings.

  4. Trisha,

    Malicorne certainly has an unique charm, I am very fond of a Malicorne figural I have: a lady carrying a basket of fish.
    We discovered this piece in a antique centre between Vannes and Quimper many years ago. Martin and I had arranged to go straight from the ferry to meet with Judy Datesman, Bevra Krattenmaker and Nancy Ninegar (who memorably had her finger nails painted red, white and blue for that particular trip !) at the 'trade only' day of an antiques fair in Vannes - I guess we were early but there was very little there except for other Quimper Club members !!!
    Disappointed we followed Judy and party back to Quimper and stopped en route at this rather large house that had been converted into a antiques centre. I spied the figure in a cabinet and with Judy's help we made a very cheeky offer - to our surprise it was accepted and this lady has lived in the UK ever since - I believe she has a partner but I have yet to find an example I wanted to buy she is still alone

    I guess I should say something about your comparison of British transferware and Quimper faience - they are very different animals : the only skill was in getting the transfer straight and wrinkle free !!!Transferware was massed produced for not only the domestic markets but to be sold throughout the British empire and colonies, however it in no way represents the artistry to be found in the British ceramics industry, (Some factories did use contemporary artists from other spheres) - don't forget it is said that Alfred Beau himself was inspired by a series of plates known as 'Sloane's Botanicals' manufactured by the Chelsea factory !!!

  5. Trisha,We are so enjoying reading your blog whilst on vacation, gives me a little Q fix so far from home!

  6. SICK CHICKEN?!? Surely, you're not referring to this bird!
    Trisha is right when she speaks of the members in the Q Club being very welcoming. Everyone is so much fun to be around! I also encourage any first timers having reservations about attending to pack a bag and come to Dallas!!!
    Great job on the blog, Trisha! You have set the bar HIGH!!

  7. Trisha, I finally have had the time to read your comments. I surely enjoyed your article on Malicorne, and it is one of my favorites, too. Not only that but my visit to the faïencerie with Nina Slonaker in 2001 showed us how like the past their production still was. As much as I love Quimper, it is a bit more modern now and, yes, that look of Malicorne gets to me, too! And then there is Lalys, and Porquier, and Nevers, and oh my, this is the way we collectors are! A bit obsessive, I fear. Keep up the great blogs!