Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Breton Birds ... judy

I have a thing about birds - I really like them! I've always thought birds were interesting, pretty, and all that, but I have come to really like them. I like them eating seeds on the sill outside the kitchen window, and I like them when I go into a pet store, and I flipped over the falconry display at Puy du Fou (a theme park where we went for Marcel's birthday in June) - a new project for when I retire!!

Because life in Brittany is so intimately connected with the land and the sea, it is not surprising that images of the flora and the fauna of the region have an important place in its art. Bird motifs are found in every medium, and today the pictures will do the talking ...




I wanted to include a photo of MY birds - Charles and Petula - who are not Breton but were rescued from a Quimper auction house. They are yellow-fronted canaries from Mozambique, and they live in a flying cage in our garage, up against a window. They hate to be photographed, and I was unable to get a picture of them for this post!You will have to come to visit them in person ...

Credit for the above images: old Quimper birds (in the public domain), Le Minor embroideries old and new, Marie Toulhoat (contemporary ceramicist), designs from Le Livre des 5000, Jean-Claude Taburet (contemporary ceramicist and sculptor), Philippe Lalys (contemporary ceramicist), Bijoux Toulhoat (contemporary Breton jewelers).

Friday, 24 September 2010

Some Favorites in Camaïeu Blue By Sarah

Hanging French Shelf with Camïeu Blue Quimper Pottery

With the exception of a small blue willow tea set, we don't have the typical collection one thinks of for blue and white pottery. Ours is not Chinese, nor is it Delft or English. What we do have is a small group of French faïence done in the camaïeu blue technique.

Unmarked Quimper Secouette or Snuff Bottle

It's once again time for Laurie's A Few Of My Favorite Things and also Blue Monday with Smiling Sally. So it's a perfect opportunity to share a group of French faïence done in the camaïeu technique. Camaïeu is a technique where by an object is decorated in varying shades of one color. In this case blue. Pieces are often outlined or shaded in a darker shade and then accented with lighter shades of the same color family.

HB Quimper Doughnut Shaped Teapot with Missing Lid

Though beautiful examples of entire scenes painted in camïeue blue were produced, we unfortunately don't have any in our personal collection. Our pieces painted in this technique are in the fleur de lys decor, of which this doughnut shaped tea pot is a classic example. You can see the outline done in the darkest color and then the use of two lighter shades of blue. All this done on a white glaze background.

HB Quimper Porte Bouquet on Rectangular Base

HR Quimper Tri-Lobed Footed Saucer with Three Small Feet on the Base

Most of our pieces in this decor were produced by HB Quimper. The above saucer is of HR Quimper production. One can see that the decor varies little between these two faïenceries.

HB Quimper Secouette (Front on Left, Reverse on on Right)

This little secouette or snuff bottle was quite a find. Often these small pieces were not marked, but this one bears the mark of HB Quimper on the reverse seen with the ermine tail. It also retains the original cork with wire pull. It is rare to find a secouette with its original cork in place. I've not attempted to remove the cork because of fear it would pull apart, but I can shake the secouette and hear that it indeed has something inside. I suspect it is extremely aged snuff.

Pair of HB Quimper Shell Shaped Dishes
with HB Quimper Heart Shaped Secouette

In Brittany one is never far from the sea, so these little scalloped shell dishes are the perfect shape to reflect a life tied to the sea. The pair shown on either side of the secouette are very delicate in feel, and they are very small in size as you can see compared to the small secouette. They are less than 3.5" x 4.5".

Reverse of HB Quimper Shell Shaped Dish with Mark

The reverse side is also interesting. These little dishes sit on a rimmed base, and the mark includes a G, which I suspect is an artist signature.

HB Porte Carte

This little porte carte was made to hold a small card, perhaps to mark one's place at the table or to hold a small menu card. I have to confess that I've a passion for both porte carte forms and those of secouettes. I like the textural feel of holding these little treasures of the past in the palm of my hand. I'm particularly pleased we have this one because it is done in camïeue blue, and it is the only example in our group of camïeue blue that features a figure.

Reverse of HB Porte Carte

The reverse does feature the fleur de lys, but the feel is very different from the typical fleur de lys pattern shown in the above photos.

Unmarked Perfume Faïence Flask

This last piece doesn't qualify as a camïeue piece, but I have it displayed with the group because it seems to fit in. This is a perfume bottle, much the size and style of a secouette.

Reverse Side of Perfume Flask

You can see from the wording on this side that this was made for Guy Parfumeur. Coeur de Bretagne indicates the heart of Brittany, but perhaps this is simply a reference to this piece being a souvenir of Brittany. I've had no success tracking down any information on this parfumeur. The piece is unmarked other than the references on this side. If anyone has any ideas or knowledge of this piece, please share.

To see more faience produced with this technique click here to read Cerélle's post that featured pieces in her collection, and click here to see Melissa's beautiful collection of
camïeue blue

Click here to join others at Laurie's A Few Of My Favorite Things.

Visitors for Blue Monday can click here to go to Smiling Sally's for a list of other Blue Monday posts.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Yvon Roy, Ceramicist ... judy

About 15 years ago, I bought this plate in a flea market because I liked the pattern (we know I like birds!), the colors (there is flash reflection in this photo, but that brilliant blue is the real color), and the thumbprint edge on the plate. I had no idea who Yvon Roy was.

Then I found some Quimper-style pieces:

And one day when I was in the shop, a young man came in. He was a sales rep for the Faïencerie de Montgolfier, which is in the Sarthe (near Le Mans). He had some interesting things to show me, and I looked at his literature about the history of the manufacture – lo and behold!, it was founded by Yvon Roy. And the young man in front of me was Roy's grandson – the business was still in the family.

In 2001, Stéphane Deschang's book about Malicorne pottery was published, and there was Yvon Roy's signature as one of the Tessier manufacture marks ... had I know then what I know about Malicorne now, I might have figured that out – these plates are very much Tessier style.

Like many (if not most) pottery manufactures in the northern half of France,  Roy took advantage of the market for pottery with Breton figures.

The sabot form was used as a bank, as a triple vase (I have to say that this might be one of the least attractive pieces ever made), and a double salt. Roy's signature also evolved – that's a very stylized ermine tail instead of a Y.

And these two bowls have motifs from the embroidery designs of Pont L'Abbé - a long way from the Sarthe ...

Roy did a series of designs influenced by Moroccan patterns (as did Quimper from time to time). The shape of the little covered pot is charming, with its pleated handles.

And Yvon Roy developed a technique for which the Faïencerie de Montgolfier became well-known. He put a layer of color on his piece and then engraved it to bring up the pattern in the undercolor (usually white).

So he painted the blue and then used an engraving tool to engrave the design (which by the way is a triskell, another symbol associated with Brittany), which is defined as white. You can actually see the engraving in the color layer.

This covered serving dish, engraved on yellow, reminds me of Keraluc – look at those very modern-looking handles!

And this is my favorite piece of all – the pitcher is engraved with a fish and a boat ...

Yvon Roy died in the late 1950s, at about the same period as Paul Fouillen and Victor Lucas – a generation of ceramicist-entrepreneurs ended sort of all at once. But genetics will out ... the young man who sold me pieces of his grandfather's designs today has his own manufacture in Quimper: Céramiques de Cornouaille.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

It's Not Easy Being Green by Sarah

A Sunday Favorites Rerun

This post was originally published on Hyacinths for the Soul. It is being repurposed here on the QCI Blog and linked to Chari's Sunday Favorites @ Happy to Design.

"It's not that easy being Green.
Having to spend each day the color of the leaves.
It seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things,
And people tend to pass you over . . . "

Words taken from Kermit's Famous Song IT'S NOT THAT EASY BEING GREEN

No, it's not that easy being green, especially in the world of Quimper French pottery. The color green is found on many pieces as an accent, but for the primary color of this pottery to be green is most unusual.

Green Hydrangeas and Yoko Ono Green Land Mums

Others might have passed this coffee/tea service by without much thought, but it was love at first sight for "the chef" and me. It's a complete service for twelve: dessert plates, cups and saucers, creamer, sugar, and coffee/tea pot.

A friend contacted me in the summer of 2006. She knew of a couple who were downsizing and wanted to sell a complete tea/coffee service. Jacqueline, who is French and the original owner, included a note with the special story of this set.

Soon after WWII, she and her American soldier husband, traveled to the United States to begin a life together here. In the summer of 1946, on a visit back to France to visit her parents, Jacqueline and her mother visited Brittany and the atelier of Paul Fouillen. It was on this trip that Jacqueline's mother purchased this set as a gift for Jacqueline.

There were actually two sets purchased at the time. The other very different in color and design was enjoyed by Jacqueline's mother during her lifetime. Jacqueline's daughter now treasures the set that had been her grandmother's, so she didn't need this set. Lucky me!

Jacqueline told me that she carefully packed this set in her suitcase and carried it with her on the return journey, crossing the Atlantic by ship and then traveling by train on to Texas.

Paul Fouillen opened his atelier in the late 1920s. He is well known for his unique designs with both Celtic and Art Deco influences.

The wonderful hand crimped handles on each of these pieces are glazed with a sponge technique. Though each piece includes the concentric bands of green color and the green checks, there are different designs painted on each side of the various pieces.

And this magnificent tray matches our service!

A very thoughtful friend and fellow member in the Quimper Club International sent me this tray as a surprise one Christmas.

It was a piece from her own collection.

When she learned that I had purchased the dessert service, she felt the tray should be reunited with the set.

See, it has the darling dragonfly that is on the tea/coffee pot.
Lucky me, again! Thank you, Laverne!

I've talked enough. Won't you join me for a cup of tea?



And how about a little something sweet?

You may serve yourself with this sweet sterling fork that I found while antique shopping in Santa Fe.

Help yourself to a plate and one of these little cake forks.

You may use one of the beautiful linen napkins that were gifts from Mary @ A Breath of Fresh Air. Just look at the fine detail on these.

May I tempt you with a horn of dulce de leche? These horns are filled with a sweet caramelized goat's milk cream.

Or for all you chocolate lovers, here is a special Hatch chili chocolate brownie.

This is the season for the famous Hatch chilies from Hatch, New Mexico.

These chilies are HOT and add a subtle spicy after-taste to the chocolate.

The chocolate isn't really that hot, but have another sip of tea if you like.

"I'm green, and it'll do fine, it's beautiful!"

As you can see, sometimes I repurpose this service when I want to serve a glass of ice tea. With the heat of summer still present here in Texas, perhaps you'd like a glass of ice tea instead.

Sunday Favorites is a weekly meme that features re-runs of previously published posts. Click here to see what other Sunday Favorites are being shared this week.