Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Quimper Tiles

A couple of months ago, Trudi took us on a great  tour of Italian tiles ... tiles date from antiquity, and they are wonderful decorative elements. When I used to be a tourist in Quimper, I would do my year's shopping of birthday, Christmas, and wedding presents in the faïence shops in town, and my purchases always included tiles. They made great hostess gifts as trivets, either in a wooden frame or with just a cork or felt backing (perfect for a teapot,  for instance).

In their heyday, which was the 1950s and 1960s (more or less), Quimper tiles were used for table tops, set into wrought iron bases. Bel Delecourt did many patterns, often with flowers or fish, and her tiles have a luminous quality to them because of the way she used glazes. This table was up for auction last weekend:

We bought several lots of tiles at auctions about five years ago, before I knew enough to recognize the decors of Bel Delecourt, and we have bits of her designs, four tiles here, three there, etc. We wanted to use them in our bathroom, but the technical difficulties of mixing them with new tiles that were perhaps not exactly the same thickness dissuaded us. However, someday, I'm going to put them together in some sort of jigsaw fashion ...

For years, I wanted one of these tables, but they can get expensive. In addition to Bel Delecourt, a number of other artists produced these tiled tables, including Maurice Fouillen. But I have no idea who this artist is:

The tile in the lower right corner is signed with someone's initials and HB Quimper. Very 1960s, yes?

Marcel and I don't often worry about where we might put something that we buy - our taste runs to smaller things, and we generally find a place. I always tell myself that if there is really no room, I'll just sell whatever it is. In any case, finally I was able to buy my table at an auction. I got it into the car, and I spent most of the drive home wondering where I was going to put it. When I unloaded it, Marcel wondered the same thing. Well, the table is a floater in our house. It's in my workroom much of the time, but it does get pressed into service when we have guests and need another surface for drinks and nibbles. It has red, pink, and yellow flowers on a black background, in the style that Guy Trévoux developed for Henriot; I don't know that this is his design, but it is signed Henriot Quimper in the lower right corner.

And my latest tile acquisition floats my boat for two reasons... these are color and design samples, done on tiles:

Are these splendid?? Makes me want to redo the kitchen again ...


  1. Oh Judy, that table is wonderful! I love the black background and how the colors pop on it. The samples tiles are so unique! I enjoyed seeing all of these. laurie

  2. Judy, your tile find floats my boat too. These just make me smile to see them. They would make a fabulous kitchen accent or any number of things. I'm sure you will come up with a clever idea. Great find! ~~ Sarah

  3. I had to remove my Quimper tiles and now want to put them back on the wall but find I need more. Do you have any idea where to find them? Mine are 6inch squares and are the single woman in the yellow circle. I have seen the smaller ones online but that's all. There was a store in Stonington, CT that I believe must be out of business. Thanks for any help you can give me. Meg