A week in France: Ceramic museum at Sevres

Peacock Platter Iznik Turkey

French platter from Saintonge 1600-1630

Conversion of Sergio Paulus by Nicola de Urbino Italy 1525-1530

Cuerda Seca Rabbit Bowl from Seville 1500-1525

Lustreware Platter Spain 1450-1500

On the outskirts of Paris sits the small suburb of Sevres. Home to the Sevres ceramic factory and museum this area has been producing ceramics since the middle of the 18th century. The museum hosts a broad collection of European ceramics highlighting decorative functional traditions. Seeing pieces from many cultures side-by-side helps show the evolution of decorative style across Europe. I spent a few hours with the collection and got to see some of my favorite pots from around the globe for the first time in person.

The grouping of Turkish Iznik ceramics in the museum brought a huge smile to my face. The peacock platter above is a great example of the balance Iznik decoration draws between asymmetry and symmetry. The peacock rests in the middle ground behind two feather/floral motifs that sit slightly off the center point of the plate. The composition is grounded by a singular chain of flowers that stretch along the bottom of the circle. To balance the activity of the middle section, the rim of the pot has a symmetrical pattern loaded with white negative space to let your eye rest. Every one of the plates on display was an education in balanced decoration.

Olivier Tureen 1770-1780

Pierced tureen made at Sevre

The roots of the Sevres factory lead back to Louis XV's mistress Madame Pompadour who moved a ceramic factory from Vincennes to Sevres in 1756. With the switch the factory served as the official production center of French ceramics. Numerous artists designed forms and patterns for the company often working in disperate styles and drawing from a range of sources.

The two tureens pictured above are a good example of two designers reacting in different ways to the same form. They form a nice contrast between additive and subtractive forming methods. The top piece has the fresh look of the soft clay sprigs that were attached to the form. The patterns on the bottom tureen have harder edges that were probably caused by carving or piercing a master form. Both show the complexity of form that could be created under the direction of master mold makers.

Delft Tulipiere - Netherlands

Flower Brick Berlin Germany 18th Century

Flower Brick made at Sevres 18th Century

The museum has an inspiring collection of flower bricks including examples from the Netherlands, Germany and the Sevres factory itself. I have this form on my studio list for the near future. Click here to see images of my last grouping of flower bricks.

To see more images from my trip to Sevres please visit my Carter Pottery Facebook page by clicking here.

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