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The craftsman
Vol. V, No. 4 (January 1904)

The latest ceramic products of Sevres,   pp. 378-385 PDF (2.6 MB)


Page 378


THE CRAFTSMAN
THE LATEST CERAMIC PRODUCTS
OF SEVRES
  The following article, printed in the
French magazine, "Art et D6coration," for
November, 1904, is partially reproduced in
English. It offers interest as a proof of
the force and pervasiveness of the new art
movement which has seized and possesses one
of the firmest strongholds of tradition. The
illustrations, selected from a large number
shown in the French article, if unaccom-
panied by the text, would fail to be recog-
nized as to their origin by those who are
familiar with the historical products of the
&vres manufactory.
T      is now three years since the close
     of the Universal Exposition of 1900,
     which marked a distinct technical and
     artistic progress in the work of the
S&vres manufactory. This result was the
fruit of prolonged efforts, pursued now in
this, and now in that direction, but with a
success which, although varying, seemed to
prove that an institution already very old,
had still within it germs of vitality.
   The effects of these sustained efforts were
seen in 1900; so that S~vres, having modi-
fied its work, appeared, even to its worst de-
tractors, to have entered into a second
youth.
   Perfection had not been reached in the
new work, and there were yet many points
open to criticism ; but it was evident that the
State establishment had broken with the
traditions of works which might be classed
as official and puerile: that is, the small
coffee-cups in king's blue, and the vases
378
destined for gifts to the Ministers and the
President of the Republic.
  It has been said somewhat maliciously
that if the royal manufactory of Copen-
hagen had not shown its porcelains in 1889,
the exhibit of the S~vres manufactory of
1900 could not have been made. This is a
statement without basis; for in full justice
to the recent accomplishments and the pres-
ent work of the Danish manufactory, it may
be said that these products are good, not for
the reason that they were made in Copen-
hagen, but because they are specimens of a
modern and vitalized art; because this estab-
lishment, instead of producing pieces of a
superannuated style, devoted itself to the
decoration of porcelain in accordance with
the artistic tendencies of the nineteenth
century.
  At the moment when the S~vres manufac-
tory broke with official and stupid tradi-
tions, and with errors resulting from a
faulty organization, it was fitted, owing to
the laboratories and workshops which it pos-
sessed, to enter upon experiments much more
significant than those lying within the pos-
sibilities of other establishments.
   It can not be said that works such as those
produced at Copenhagen have been without
influence upon the experiments at S~vres;
but this influence proceeds less from Copen-
hagen, considered in itself, than from the
principles of which this manufactory, for a
brief space, was one of the few worthy rep-
resentatives. Therefore, from   the time
when S~vres acknowledged these principles,
it was able to apply them with greater pre-
cision and immediately to create works,
which by beauty of substance, richness of
decoration, perfection of workmanship, can
be classed with the ceramic masterpieces


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