Vincennes Manufactory (French)
Gift of R. Thornton Wilson, in memory of Florence Ellsworth Wilson, 1950 (50.211.168a, b, .169)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Eine kleine Nachtmusik (Serenade No. 13 for strings in G Major), K. 525, III. Minuetto: Allegretto
- Many years ago, I trained to be a potter.
- My tastes have always gone to objects that really speak to the clay-ness of the material.
- But I find that as I walk by this object on almost a daily basis, it stops me in my tracks every time.
- This covered bowl and stand was made in France in the middle years of the eighteenth century.
- This bowl would have been used for the serving of a broth consumed in the morning.
- It’s very likely this would have been served to a woman at her dressing table as part of
- the toilette--the highly ritualized grooming process that took place on a daily basis,
- which often could last for several hours. The cover allowed the contents to be kept warm.
- The two handles on the side allowed the broth to be
- sipped and bread could be placed next to it.
- There are numerous vignettes of fish
- intended to allude to the contents inside.
- There’s an enormous lobster that’s walking on dry land.
- There’s a series of fish,
- some of which that look like sturgeon,
- contained within
- enormous scallop shells,
- and they look real, but they also look like creatures from another planet.
- The fish seem to
- stare back at the viewer,
- and to have a sense of personality.
- There’s shading and highlights
- applied in gold. It’s so exaggerated by current standards of taste.
- The scenes are painted with
- enamel colors prior to the firing.
- There was enormous potential for disaster in the kiln. He or she did not know what the color was going to look like exactly.
- Believe it or not this is a relatively restrained early product
- of the Vincennes factory.
- And it's really an extraordinary accomplishment for this factory
- really just a handful of people who worked mostly in anonymity,
- but created works of art of extraordinary quality and originality.
- We don’t often think of pieces of porcelain, let alone porcelain from the eighteenth century, as great works of art.
- But I think for what this is, it’s as good as it gets.