Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Ceramics, Room 139, The Curtain Foundation Gallery

Plate

ca. 1880-1890 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This set of eight plates was designed by Alfred Beau and was made in partnership with Augustine Carof at the Porquier factory, Quimper, during the 1880s. Beau, the Curator at the Quimper Museum and an artist and photographer, became involved in the Porquier faience factory in 1872 and left it in 1890. During the intervening years the factory made a range of distinctive patterns based on his drawings of Breton subjects and indigenous Breton plants and wildlife, all finely painted in soft colours on a blue-grey tinted ground.

This set is from the factory’s ‘Botanique’ range of 122 designs of plants (with fish, rodent and insects), apparently the first wares Alfred Beau designed for the works. Beau’s designs for the factory were much admired, an example depicting Breton beggars winning him a medal at the Paris Exposition in 1878, and were copied by other manufacturers (these pieces, however, bear the correct mark of the Porquier-Beau partnership, a horizontal B intersected by a vertical P). The asymmetrical treatment and close-cropping of the plants in some of Beau’s botanical designs may have been suggested by Japanese prints.

In La Faience de Quimper (1979) Marjatta Taburet gives some details of workshop practice at the factory at the time when these plates were made. Alfred Beau made drawings of Breton subjects, working first in pencil and then in watercolour. The outlines were then traced onto thin paper, and these were pricked for pouncing the design onto the ware (examples of these pricked drawings survive in the Archives of the Faïenceries de Quimper). Some of the figurative designs were made by combining elements from two or more of these tracings, and this may also have been true of the ‘Botanique’ range. The decoration was carried out by a team of eighteen young women who had been personally selected by Beau. Four women worked on each plate: one transferred the design; the colour washes were divided between another two women; and a fourth decorator, the ‘finisseuse’ painted the outlines and did any retouching necessary.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Tin-glazed earthenware, painted in colours
Brief Description
Plate, tin-glazed earthenware, painted with a honeysuckle spray, designed by Alfred Beau for the Porquier-Beau factory, Quimper, ca. 1880-1890
Physical Description
Buff earthenware plate with waved edge with six lobes, glazed with blue-tinted tin-glaze, edged in blue lined with black, the front (rim and well) painted in colours with asymmetric design of a honeysuckle spray in flower.
Dimensions
  • Diameter: 23.5cm
Marks and Inscriptions
PB in monogram painted in blue for Porquier-Beau factory
Credit line
Jane Donald Bequest
Object history
From a set of eight plates that were given as a wedding present around 1885-90 to Colin Rowley, then at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, and Salome Wynyard (the grandparents of the donor's husband). The donor, Jane Marion Donald (née Gregory), trained under the potter Katherine Pleydell-Bouverie and subsequently worked as a ceramic painter for Doulton under Anita Hoy.
Subjects depicted
Summary
This set of eight plates was designed by Alfred Beau and was made in partnership with Augustine Carof at the Porquier factory, Quimper, during the 1880s. Beau, the Curator at the Quimper Museum and an artist and photographer, became involved in the Porquier faience factory in 1872 and left it in 1890. During the intervening years the factory made a range of distinctive patterns based on his drawings of Breton subjects and indigenous Breton plants and wildlife, all finely painted in soft colours on a blue-grey tinted ground.



This set is from the factory’s ‘Botanique’ range of 122 designs of plants (with fish, rodent and insects), apparently the first wares Alfred Beau designed for the works. Beau’s designs for the factory were much admired, an example depicting Breton beggars winning him a medal at the Paris Exposition in 1878, and were copied by other manufacturers (these pieces, however, bear the correct mark of the Porquier-Beau partnership, a horizontal B intersected by a vertical P). The asymmetrical treatment and close-cropping of the plants in some of Beau’s botanical designs may have been suggested by Japanese prints.



In La Faience de Quimper (1979) Marjatta Taburet gives some details of workshop practice at the factory at the time when these plates were made. Alfred Beau made drawings of Breton subjects, working first in pencil and then in watercolour. The outlines were then traced onto thin paper, and these were pricked for pouncing the design onto the ware (examples of these pricked drawings survive in the Archives of the Faïenceries de Quimper). Some of the figurative designs were made by combining elements from two or more of these tracings, and this may also have been true of the ‘Botanique’ range. The decoration was carried out by a team of eighteen young women who had been personally selected by Beau. Four women worked on each plate: one transferred the design; the colour washes were divided between another two women; and a fourth decorator, the ‘finisseuse’ painted the outlines and did any retouching necessary.
Collection
Accession Number
C.58-2005

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record createdDecember 21, 2005
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