July 24 – The auction house in Quimper plans their summer sale to coincide with the height of the tourist season (and this week being the Festival de Cornouaille in Quimper, it's about tourist as it gets!), rather than focusing on collectors, as the other auction houses tend to do by scheduling their sales together at the beginning of the month. (Not that collectors don't make themselves known – if there is something interesting for sale, they know!) This group of Quimper faïence represents an ample assortment of pieces from just about every era and style. I always enjoy seeing something I've never seen before ... and this time, it was this:
At first glimpse, I thought it was a pair of wine coasters in a stand, but it turned out to be a Camembert serving piece! The Camembert fits in the round box, which is then placed in the stand, and the whole thing is put on the table. (And here I am back to the one-piece oil and vinegars – is this practical?? To serve, you would have to take hold of the box vertically tightly enough so that neither the top nor the bottom falls as you lift it out of its holder; then you would have to put it on the table and take the top off, without any kind of little feet, handle, knob, or other protrusions to help you manage it. Well, it's imaginative if not the most useful cheese server Quimper ever created, and maybe that's why there aren't too many of them ... )
The other important part of this sale is an extensive collection of costumes and costume accessories; the collection is part of the estate of a well-known figure in the world of Breton culture and Celtic folklore groups. Club member Philippe Jamault, who is the expert for the auction house, did a video interview this week about the costumes with Le Télégramme, one of our local newspapers, and you can see it here:
For those of you who don't speak French, two major points that he makes are these:
1. old costumes still serve as references for collectors and those who wish to recreate the costumes today, which makes them valuable, even in worn condition. They are a necessary complement to the artwork and reference books about Breton costumes.
2. the very economical Bretons did not throw away a costume just because it was worn or had moth holes (the old costumes are mostly wool) – they took it apart and reused what was still good, particularly embroidered sections, which took so much time to make and which could be appliquéd to other costumes.
And while I'm on the subject of videos, this week the Institute National de l'Audiovisuel (ina) announced that it was making public a vast part of its archives from the 20th century. This site is a bonanza for Francophiles, and if you type Quimper into the search box, it comes up with 72 videos, with everything from Charles de Gaulle (and other French presidents) making speeches in Quimper to cultural visits to catastrophes – these are all clips that were filmed for television. They seem to be in random order, so you have to poke around - I was enchanted to visit the faïencerie in 1967! http://www.ina.fr/recherche/recherche?search=quimper&vue=Video