Saturday, 31 July 2010

My Last Collection

I have a well-developed appreciation for old Quimper and other French pottery, but at heart, I have a particular fondness for the post-WWII productions, like Keraluc and Ty Breizh and Kercy Quimper.

When I started coming to Quimper 25 years ago, on the rue Saint François, right near the market, there was a shop where a ceramicist named Mme Kercy displayed her wares. I was a fan right away!! The soup plate on the lower right of the above photo is one of the first pieces I ever bought from her, and it was soon followed by the two pieces  below (I actually bought two of the little bowls, but only one remains ... ):

As time went by, Mme Kercy's shop evolved, and it became more of a tourist shop with souvenirs and other items that she did not make, until one day her lease was not renewed and that was the end. By that time, I was living here, and I became more interested in her pieces. On a visit to St. Ouen in Paris, a dealer told me that this piece was from one of the Quimper manufactures in the 1950s:

I said, "oh, really? how interesting", knowing that it was rather more recent than that (Mme Kercy is older than I am, but not that much older!). And by then I hooked. However, these pieces are all put aside as I buy them, and I'm planning on this being my last collection, when the time comes that we have divested ourselves of all the rest of our pottery. It was rather fun taking out pieces to photograph, because I had no idea that I've already collected a fair amount!

Mme Kercy used lots of bright blue and ocher, and her brush stroke is emphatic. I don't know where her biscuit came from - in fact, I don't know much about her at all.

This blue is used with other tones, particularly raspberry and mauve. The covered mug has an insert for tea leaves!

Lots of ceramicists in this area are inspired by Moroccan pottery at times ...

Mme Kercy's signature is at times difficult to read, if you don't know what you are looking for, so on eBay pieces can be attributed to all sorts of names!

Last March, I was at a "stuff" auction (my favorite kind, you may remember). I specifically went to buy this large covered casserole:

On my way out, Mme Kercy spoke to me - it was kind of hard to have a major discussion in the middle of an auction, but she did say that she had a lot of stock left and that in times gone by, she'd had a number of American clients. I used to be a little more on the ball than I apparently am today, because I let a golden opportunity get away from me ... and I have been trying ever since to reach Mme Kercy to talk to her about how we might work together to get back in touch with the American market - I would love to see what she has left and to be able to sell it!!

But Mme Kercy has been very difficult to get hold of, and I understand from someone who would like to write an article about her and her pottery that she is somewhat retiring at this point in her life, although she told me that she likes to go to auctions for the fun of it. However, I did not see her at auctions this summer, and when the school year starts ("La Rentrée" - in France, it's a lot more than back-to-school, it's also back-to-your-normal-workaday-life), I'm going to redouble my efforts to talk to Mme Kercy in person.

In the meantime, I just bought these two plates:

I have been told that Mme Kercy worked for Keraluc at one time, and the designs on these plates would certainly support that theory - I'm hoping to be able to confirm it in person. 

So stay tuned - if I'm successful, I'll ask our blog chief for an opportunity to give you an update! In the meantime, I'm going to go on stashing Mme Kercy's pieces away - it's turning into a super collection!!


  1. Hi Judy,
    What a fascinating subject you have chosen to spotlight for your last post before handing over to our next guest blogger and what a tease.
    My personal favourites are the blue with raspberry & mauve plates and also the plates in the last image.
    By all means let me know when you have "the rest of the story" I'll always make room for another of your excellent posts.

  2. Judy, you have such a good eye! I wish you success at reconnecting with Mme Kercy. It would be fun to see what she has in her stock. Love the turquoise blue she uses. Her work definitely puts a smile on my face! ~ Sarah

  3. Judy, I have enjoyed your blogs, most interesting. This is an area I haven't exlored, your last blog. It is educational and fun to read about this. I do hope you can get back in touch with Mme Kercy.


  4. COOL, COOL, COOL! No doubt about it, you have some spectacular pieces, Judy..and you DO have the "eye". I have seen a few, as you know, but these are truly "eye openers" and yes, you need to find Mme Kercy! Keep us informed and thank you for all of your wonderful and educational blogs.

  5. I enjoyed reading about Mme Kercy. A few months ago I purchased a plate with her signature on the front and back that was a dead ringer for a Guy Trevoux piece. I was wondering if perhaps he sold in her shop. I can't imagine that she copied his designs; they are very unlike hers. I'd be happy to send pictures.