Vitis Vase - Art by Emile Decoeur & Edmond Lachenal
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Emile Decoeur & Edmond Lachenal
Vitis Vase

ca 1902

About

The finest examples of vases produced in collaboration between Edmond Lachenal and Emile Decoeur date from 1901-1904. This vase, with the word “original” marked on its underside, indicates that the ceramists produced it as a possible model from which other vases could be based. In addition to creating one-of-a-kind ceramic works of art, their workshop remained true to the potter’s trade by designing reproducible objects. Here, the influence of Japonisme is unmistakable. Heavy black outlining creates a spatial illusion in the manner of Japanese ukiyo-e prints. Hand-built ceramic elements grow out of the vase whose tendrils thrust outwards and break the plane into 3-dimensionality. Disappearing at the neck, there is an illusion that the vine has grown right into the glaze. These naturalistically rendered vines, which emanate from their more abstracted rootstock, intertwine and intermingle with the ceramic to heighten the sense that man-made ware is melding with nature to ultimately produce a unified organic form. Akin to the Japanese aesthetic, Decoeur and Lachenal incorporate each technical step as a mark of artistic craftsmanship. Where many ceramists perfunctorily passed off the final production stages as decor, these artists saw glazing as integral to the fully realized art object. Decoeur and Lachenal personally supervised the firing process in order to showcase their creative and technical mastery of the medium. Clay’s malleability is expressed by the twisting terra cotta whose roughness and “unfinished” appearance shows the hand of the artist and one aspect of the process of creation; while clay’s dual characteristic is manifest by the transformative process of firing in the glossy smoothness of the vase’s hardened surface. In much the same way as they commingled formal and symbolic inspirations from Nature, Decoeur and Lachenal delighted in exploring the dualities and contrasts in the medium itself. Glazed stoneware vase in the art nouveau style, the footed boule shape terminates with a short neck and mouth which are slightly narrower than the foot, the decorative handles are shaped as sinewy vines which flow back into the body and are boldly scored and outlined in black. The beige underglaze reveals ochre and sang-de-boeuf accents that is further enhanced with terra cotta and richly applied green enameled over-glazing; marked under the base: “Original”/Decoeur’s monogram and “Lachenal” with “1151” and “LACHENAL” superimposed in black ink. EMILE DECOEUR (1876-1953) The disciple of Edmond Lachenal, Emile Decoeur emerged as a leader in 20th century ceramics. Decoeur began his long apprenticeship with the master in 1890 until he formally set up his own studio in 1903 in Paris’ ceramics hub, the Auteuil district. Joining forces with fellow ceramist, Fernand Rumebe, they added a small gallery called L’Art Ceramique. 1908 proved to be the real turning point in DeCoeur’s career. He married and moved his studio permanently to the town of Fontenay-aux-Roses south of Paris. Rouard, the owner of the prestigious Parisian retailer of fine furnishings on Avenue de l’Opera, A la Paix, became the promoter and agent for DeCoeur’s work for decades. That year also marks the beginning of a life-long friendship with art collector, Atherton Curtis, whose patronage enabled DeCoeur’s artistic independence. The honing of expertise in every aspect of production and drive for experimentation which Lachenal nurtured in his workshop continued to expand for all of Decoeur’s life. Decoeur was the first to show the potential for engobe application with stoneware. He shifted from early work in faience to his preferred stoneware and porcelain mediums where he could continuously refine the unity of ceramic base and glaze. He was made a Chevalier in 1920 and elevated to Officier in 1926 of the French Legion of Honor. From 1914 until the eve of WWII, Decoeur was truly the heart of Rouard’s artists who exhibited under the name, Les Artisans Francais Contemporains. He served on the selection committee and on the jury of the first international exhibition devoted exclusively to the decorative arts, l’Exposition des Arts Decoratifs, where Art Deco style was born. A favorite of Ruhlmann, Decoeur found inspiration in ancient Chinese and Korean ceramics and strove for a purity of style and form; his work in the second quarter of the 20th century continues to evolve with a demonstrably more sober approach. Decoeur served as Artistic Advisor to Sevres Manufactury from 1939 - 1948, continuing his quest in the world of ceramics in his later years at his studio until his dying day. Besides the many museum purchases made during Decoeur’s lifetime, Curtis’ donation of the bulk of his 500-piece Decoeur collection to the Musee Nationale d’Art Moderne in 1938 has ensured the preservation and eminence of this 20th century master. EDMOND LACHENAL (1855-1948) One of France’s most influential ceramists, Edmond Lachenal contributed significantly to the development of Art Nouveau. His poor beginnings in Paris led to an apprenticeship at age 12 with a local potter. In 1870, he began working in the studio of leading ceramist, Theodore Deck. Lachenal was a quick study and by 1873, he had demonstrated considerable talent to be appointed Director of Decoration in Deck’s studio as well as receiving an Honorable Mention at the World’s Fair in Vienna. By 1881 Lachenal had opened his own studio with his wife and fellow ceramist, Anne Le Cloarec, in Paris’ Auteuil neighborhood where there was a high concentration of ceramic production and artistic exchange. He subsequently moved his studio production outside of Paris; however his impact on the artistic capital only increased with time. He won gold medals there in 1889 and 1900 at the Expositions Universelle. By the early-1900s, large exhibitions of his work were held at the Osterreischisches Museum fur angewande Kunst in Vienna and Munich and at Louis Majerelle’s new Paris showrooms at the former site of Bing’s Maison de l’Art Nouveau. It was his breadth and range that set him apart from other contemporary artists working in the field. He worked in faience and stoneware, and he collaborated with sculptors to produce ceramic versions of their work. His oeuvre included applied experimental decorative ceramic styles as well as masterful sculpted organic models which reflected the evolving trend of Japonisme. Lachenal’s creative solutions of utilizing hydrofluoric acid to remove the outer layer of glazes in order to create a velvety matte finish became his hallmark email mat veloute. As a harbinger and master of the Art Nouveau style, Lachenal’s ceramic work moved french ceramics from an appreciative replication of the natural world influenced by the arts from Japan to a fully actualized aesthetic in which artistic process and form expressed these higher laws found in nature. Lachenal leaves an incredible legacy.

Details

  • Artist
    Emile Decoeur & Edmond Lachenal (1876 - 1953, French)
  • Creation Year
    ca 1902
  • Medium
  • Movement & Style
  • Condition
    Excellent
  • Condition Details
    Featured in the book "Emile Decoeur: 1876-1953" pg 31.
  • Dimensions
    H 7.75 in. x W 9.75 in.H 19.69 cm x W 24.77 cm
  • Gallery Location
    Chicago, IL
  • Reference Number
    LU46733809752
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