From Daily Life Objects to Art Objects, French Quimper Pottery Fire and Earth Key.
For over Three centuries, production of earthenware, Faience in Locmaria neighborhood located in Quimper, made known in all over the world the name of Brittany and Quimper. You probably know a lot about Quimper faïencerie. In this article, you may learn a bit more, that is my focus.
Who started the Initiative?
Brilliant Artists and turners as Messieurs Bousquet, Bellevaux, Caussy, Dumaine, Eloury, Porquet and Henriot are behind the project.
Around 1690, Quimper pottery inherited methods of fabrication from Rouen know-how then from Nevers Pottery.
Indeed, in 1731, Pierre Bousquet and Pierre Bellevaux, both turners, introduced the style of Quimper pottery. A bit later, Pierre Clement Caussy came from Rouen, brought with him the polychrome decoration highly fashionable in the 18th century.
Henriot faïencerie has been established since 1778.
1870 marked an important date, Alfred Beau artist started a “new collection” featuring quite quickly the famous and well-known petit Breton.
Breton peasants in particular were featured. A new typically Breton genre was born. Many scenes of their daily life were depicted, including a wide range of Breton folklore costumes from the four corners of Brittany.
In 1874, Alfred Beau also created a school of ceramic Art dedicated to local women, a place where poor young women from Quimper could learn and probably saved a few money. (such a great idea!), A. Beau was very involved in depicting daily life in Brittany, folklore, history, habits and memories.
In the second half of the 19th century, HB & Porquier faienceries asked talented artists to collaborate in order to diversify their production ranges, indeed, various productions were assimilated too often to Rouen, Moustiers, Nevers Potteries and their highly elaborated style. A few of these renown artists were Yan’ Dargent , Henry Guihénec, Théophile Deyrolle …
1884 : Jules Henriot inherited of his father’s factory, this small faïencerie employed no less than 21 workers around 1860.
Early 20th century, a few others and talented Artists joined Quimper Faïencerie, as Messieurs Pohier, Méheut, Bouchard, Galland, Maillard.
Henriot acquired Porquier pottery in 1913 including all the models, moulds, Biscuits stock…
Note : H.B. Faïencerie means H for Hubaudière and B for Bousquet who created the Faïencerie in 1690.
What about Marks ?
Due to competition between faïenceries, HB registered trademark in 1882, inspired his main competitor ( Henriot) who signed his creations HR since 1894.
H meant Henriot and R meant Riou (maiden name of his wife). Henriot signed his pieces in a way that did cause too much some confusion, but he finally signed his name Henriot…and he did well! Success was around the corner and became quickly a known worldwide Faïencerie
Even if technology has improved in the last 50 years, the processes of tin-glazed earthenware were preserved and the free course is always left to the creativity of local artists. The firing remains an essential element to the quality of earthenware.
French Quimper Pottery Henriot Faiencerie is constantly exporting nowadays all over the world.
Quimper Faïencerie has no less than 750 types, 50 decors and 37 500 models. Whether they be Faience workers or painter or turner, after a Four-year apprenticeship, they all knew of all production steps.
At the beginning, the factory sold their potteries at fairs and at local markets, mainly daily life kitchen utensils, as salting pots, water jugs, bowls, bottles, tiles, flower pots, ornate faience snuffbox …
Why Choose Quimper as a production site?
They simply needed water, clay and wood for firing process. Necessary conditions were fully present in the area. Water Earth and Fire 🙂
Quimper faience is really about a quality craftsmanship in an industrial context, processes of tin-glazed earthenware are still used, applied on white Bisque or Biscuit before final firing. That requires a great ability from painter (peinteur and peinteuse in french) while manipulating and painting pottery all at once.
Sure, they are highly specialised technical competence and rigorous quality process.
Important stage of the Firing
Late 19th, they started with bundles of firewood then with charcoal they kept watch day and night, they also wrote few notes in a special diary during firing process. Sometimes, firing results were quite terrible.
Various and repetitive phases of the manufacturing are necessary: sizing and moulding, etc.
Chromatic palette always consisted in using violet manganese, cobalt-blue, copper green, antimony yellow pigments, other colors have been added a bit later.
Keep in mind that each piece was and is exclusively handpainted by one single painter.
What a Living Art Faience indeed!:)
Nowadays, up to fifty people work in the faïencerie. Always looking for a new line, They still go on collaborating with fresh and various designers and offer a wide range of ceramic jewelry, Faience Art objects in limited edition.
French Quimper Pottery HB Henriot is still alive. Over 3 centuries-long Tradition, Creations will definitely adapt and evolve with the business.
There might be a trending in the near future, a return to basics as with white Biscuit faience.
A Ceramics Engineer named Victor Lucas Joined Henriot pottery in 1922. Victor lucas founded his own Faïencerie in 1946 named Keraluc faiencerie.
He died in 1958. Several talented artists joined him as Messieurs Pierre TULHOAT, René QUERE, Jo LE CORRE, Paul YVAIN…
Victor Lucas claimed during inauguration :
« In Keraluc Faïencerie, we will focus on a Living Art place, let’s leave behind us “pastiches” and “previously seen before” creations, we aim to let all artists improving their right to express their views, all together inspired by the same Faith , we’ll work with passion and for the love of a well made work.”
That’s very well said! 😉
Unfortunately, Keraluc Faïencerie closed up in 1984. Since 1960s, Pol Lucas and sisters dedicated their lives to the faïencerie until 1984. So, HB Henriot Faïencerie purchased Keraluc models, now, they own Keraluc trademark.
Another Famous artist named Paul Fouillen joined HB Faïencerie in 1922 as peinteur. He learnt fast and easy all processes, so that, he finally created his own models ; Art Deco style. Paul Fouillen, art ceramist founded his Famous Faïencerie in 1929. His creations dating from mid-century are still Modern even nowadays. He died in 1958. His son Maurice did take part a lot in the factory.
Keraluc and Fouillen Faïenceries are my Favorite Quimper Faience Artistic Creations.
Many people often argue that the “Most Beautiful” Quimper faience pieces would be part of Museum and of private collections only… oh! sure?
Considering that each piece is Unique handmade & hand painted. I like to think that any other Quimper faience objects produced for many years, are also beautiful pieces anywhere they are in the World.
Thank you for having a look! 🙂
You are welcome to browse some eclectic and sometimes Rare Vintage objects from our QUIMPER collection.
That’s all for now. Thank you for reading, for Following and for Sharing whenever possible.
& Enjoy your Day!
Awesome Art Pottery by Keraluc and Fouillen Faïenceries available soon in our shop: