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Style Japonism, Chinoiserie / Ref.11400

Ch. PILLIVUYT & Cie, Paris - "The secret village of mice", Set of 12 japanese style plates inspired by the Hokusai Manga


Diameter: 9''   23cm

France, 1867 - 1878

In very good condition

Porcelain. Seal on the back of the plates « Ch. Pillivuyt & Cie / Paris / Exp. 1867 / Médaille d’or »

This set of twelve porcelain plates was made by Maison Pillivuyt around 1870. The decor entitled The secret village of mice is inspired by two prints from the Hokusai’s Manga (notebooks 10 and 14) and is characteristic of the rise of Japonism in European arts from the 1860s.
These plates are audaciously decorated with mice represented while they practice various activities which are usually specific to humans. The main scenes are surrounded by realistic illustrations of plants and flowers, such as traditional Japanese cherry blossoms, blue birds and bamboos.
This assumed anthropomorphism is clearly inspired by the Hokusai’s Manga as they are discovered in Europe, and France more particularly, during the years 1850-1860.
We find in these plates patterns directly coming from the Manga, such as the Mount Fuji or the mouse with a carrying pole on the shoulders.

The Maison Charles Pillivuyt who signs these plates is established in 1818 by Jean Louis Richard Pillivuyt who won his first medal in 1823 in New York. In 1830, the eldest of his six children, Charles, is associated at the head of the company and, in 1847, the first shop Pillivuyt opens at 46 rue de Paradis in Paris. The house won its first gold medal at the World's Fair of 1855. Also present at the London World's Fair of 1862, the porcelain factory expanded its fame. At the World’s Fair of 1867, they won a new gold medal. « The Maison Ch. Pillivuyt, who has just won the gold medal and the cross of honor, is an old and very big house. It occupies from fifteen to sixteen hundred workmen and earns three million. The sales in Paris alone exceeds one hundred thousand francs a month. It is at the same time an honorable and educated house. (...) Mr. Ch. Pillivuyt manufactures mainly in Mehun-sur-Yèvre, department of Cher, having there a factory where 950 people work, then in Noirlac, same department, then finally in Nevers. He also has a decoration workshop in Paris. (...) His particular merits consist firstly in making his own pastes, secondly in the white and superb heating without wood, and thirdly especially in the application and refinement of several decorative colors. (...) Let us now turn to the merit which, in our opinion, assigns to this progressive house a truly undeniable rank, that of the decorative coloring. In 1855 - the date is no longer indifferent – it exhibited at the Universal Exhibition some white slip reliefs on colored backgrounds, celadon and others, who were able to put Sèvres and the imitators of Sèvres in a certain emotion. Since then, thanks to the cooperation of Mr. Hulot, the ceramic chemist, the house has begun to study colors, with the bold and decisive goal of cooking the piece and its decor in one go. (...) These hardworking men have succeeded. (...) The pieces thus treated by Mr. Pillivuyt are a big event of the Exhibition. » (Auguste Luchet, "Courrier of the Universal Exhibition", in Le Monde illustré, September 14, 1867).

This series of Japanese style plates, whose model was made for the World’s Fair of 1867 or just after, was a great success if we believe the collection of five plates and a cake dish now preserved by the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Museum of New York.

It is very interesting to note that, at the same time, the ceramist François-Eugène Rousseau, in collaboration with Félix Bracquemond, made a service called Service Rousseau, which was also directly inspired by Hokusai's prints and won a large success at the World’s Fair of 1867.