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.


  1. Oh how you have "Sparked" my wanting to start a collection... LOVE these!!! and to start a collection it's ALWAYS about "The very first piece"...

  2. Sarah, I am just discovering this second blog of yours! I love your passion for Quimper! Do you visit Brittany? The shell shaped dishes you show are known as "Ravier(s)". They are used for appetizers and such nowadays and I have several in porcelaine blanche; they are easily held and passed like a little tray by the thumb on the end. They are an incredibly practical French serving piece! Perhaps you knew that already, but not sure. This is a fantastic and highly accurate blog; very impressed!

  3. Loved seeing your blue & whites again, as you know I'm a big fan of this combo too.

  4. Sarah, I love learning from you! You're always teaching something so interesting. Believe it or not, I had never heard of "camaïeu blue", and I'm so glad to know what it is. You have such beautiful pieces. Love that secouette. Amazing that it still has its cork! I'm so glad you linked all of this knowledge and beauty to Favorite Things Sat. laurie

  5. Judy, thanks for linking the video of Joan's interview. It's fun to see Quimper being promoted in the media. ~ Sarah

  6. I love the perfume flask! I have never seent hat shape before. I have a blue/whit english collection and I think grouping it with my french pieces would be fun - thanks for the idea!

  7. WONDERFUL group of treasure, have so many wonderful items and always display them so creatively. Thank you for sharing.