Style Other / Ref.11071
Théodore DECK (1823-1891), glazed ceramic cachepot with a parrot and butterflies
Height: 23'' ¼ 59cm
Diameter: 18'' ⅛ 46cm
France, 19th century
Dimensions : H : 46 cm / 18’’ 1/8 ; D : 60 cm / 23’’ 5/8
Signed « TH. DECK. » under the base
This extraordinary cachepot was made out of glazed ceramic in the 19th century by Theodore Deck. It has a very beautiful decor in shades of blue and green depicting a polychrome parrot sitting on a blooming branch, wings spread out. This cachepot is a masterpiece, especially in the rendering of feathers - particularly realistics - as well as in that of the beak, talons or the look, bright and brilliant, of the animal . The artist demonstrates all his talent as a colorist in a subtle and precise work of polychromy; he captures the light thanks to the almost immaculate whiteness of the parrot’s flanks. The parrot brings dynamism and movement to the composition while contributing to its lightness. The richness of the composition is reflected in the many details of the cachepot; the thinness of the branches contrasts with the profusion of the leaves, flowers and buds that they support and which adorn, on all sides, the cachepot.
The beautiful celadon background is full of nuances and details. Delightful butterflies bring delicacy to the composition, their wings showing bright colors and, if they are all different, they contribute to the unity of the work by being present on the totality of the decor. If the parrot attracts, indeed, the spectator attention, the other face of the cachepot is just as much spectacular. Beautiful flowers with large, colorful petals stand on long undulating stems above an abundance of small flowers, buds, leaves and delicate herbs.
The base of the cachepot is decorated with a frieze of green rinceau alternating with flowers with petals of a beautiful dark red color. The neck is adorned with a Greek fret frieze and foliages treated as shadows on the blue background characteristic of Theodore Deck’s production that covers the entire interior of the cachepot.
The dimensions of this cachepot make it a very exceptional piece. Measuring 46 cm in height and 60 cm in diameter, it is a true masterpiece in terms of style as well as in terms of technique. Its perfect condition allows us to appreciate, on a large surface, all the art of Theodore Deck. On the other hand, what allows us to qualify this piece as a masterpiece is the absence of dripping and the presence of the parrot, the rarest decor in all Deck’s works.
A cachepot with similar dimensions was recently auctioned on the Parisian art market. It represents a golden pheasant - or Chinese cock - as well as butterflies in flight on a polychrome glazed decoration with a celadon background adorned with country flowers.
An artist with multiple sources of inspiration
The role of Theodore Deck in the production of the second half of the 19th century should not be neglected. On one hand because he is one of those who contributed most to the evolution of ceramics in terms of technique, on the other hand because he knew how to reinvent the past styles without falling into pastiche or copy . He draws his inspiration from many sources, creates his own recipes and demonstrates, in each of his pieces, all his talent as a colorist. Fascinated by the Islamic Orient - or Persian art - in its early days, Theodore Deck does not neglect the great stylistic movements of his time (marked by eclecticism) and draws his inspiration as well from the art of the Middle Age than in that of the Renaissance. From the beginning of the 1860s, Theodore Deck developed the now famous blue (which covers the neck and the inside of our cachepot) to which he often adds other enamels: manganese violet, imperial yellow, celadon green, ivory.
These enamels are applied, as in China, on plain or engraved backgrounds and decorated in light relief. The artist is also inspired by Japanese and Chinese polychrome decors. Our cachepot is a good illustration of his production of white, yellow-green or dark-yellow backgrounds with flowering branches and birds on large pieces. Around 1880, Theodore Deck produced porcelain and sandstone claiming the tradition of "Ox Blood" (Sang-de-boeuf) and Chinese celadon; At the same time, he created his famous gold backgrounds inspired by the Byzantine mosaics of Saint Mark's Basilica, thus demonstrating his ability to draw on different sources of inspiration. His collaborations with different artists of his time are at the origin of a very particular production, very personal, detached from the different styles that usually inspire him.
Theodore Deck, born in 1823 in Guebwiller, is the son of a silk dyer. At the death of his father, in 1840 - Theodore Deck was then 17 years - he assumed the direction of the family company but without much success and became Joseph Hügelin’s apprentice in a stoves factory in Strasbourg, which is his first experience in the work of ceramic and faience.
From 1844, he began an European tour and answered to many orders (he worked for the Duke of Lucca in the north of the Balkans and for the Prince of Rothau in Prague). Returning to Paris in 1847, he was employed by the Vogt stove factory before returning to Guebwiller after the 1848 Revolution. He then worked on his own for three years. In December 1851, Theodore Deck returned to Vogt as workshop chief but his desire for artistic creation continues to intensify and he multiplies, on his free time, his personal research without neglecting his position within the company Vogt which is rewarded by a first medal at the World’s Fair of 1855.
The following year, helped by his brother, Theodore Deck established his own workshop, "Faïence d’Art", in Paris. He discovered, at the end of the 1850s, the technique of the white background on the Persian faience which he admires so much. He is also famous thanks to his "electric glints".
In 1861, he was awarded a silver medal at the Industrial Arts exhibition, where he exhibited his first decor using colored paste incrustations resulting from his imitations of 16th-century faience; the same year, he is also a bronze medalist in Brussels. He collaborates with artists (Dock, Bracquemont, Hamon, Ranvier, Harpignies or Eleonore Escallier) for the decorations adorning his productions. His plates with portraits, freely inspired by the Italian majolica, won the public's support, while his famous blue and his oriental decors were presented in Paris in 1861 and then exported to London the following year for a new exhibition. Theodore Deck also enswers to private orders: decorative elements for the house of the famous photographer Nadar in 1860, bathroom decorative panels at La Païva’s private house on the Champs-Élysées the following year or an Orientalist kiosk - in which he shows his taste for Islamic art - for the villa Luce in Marseille in 1863. The same year he was awarded two silver medals in Nevers and Paris. He exhibits his famous faiences coated with turquoise blue colored alkaline glazes in imitation of Chinese porcelain, prototypes that permitted the realization of pieces of a much higher quality. The following year, he won a gold medal at the Paris Industrial Arts exhibition.
In 1865, he won a first class medal at the International Exhibition of Porto and a medal of honor in Paris. At the 1867 World's Fair, Theodore Deck was rewarded with a new silver medal thanks to the extreme originality of his pieces and his major innovations. That same year, he was named Chevalier of the Legion of Honor.
Once again a medalist in Le Havre in 1868, he opened a store on rue Halévy. Theodore Deck exhibited at the World’s Fair in London and Vienna in 1871 and 1873. In 1878, he triumphs at the Universal Exhibition in Paris thanks to his gold backgrounds inspired by the Byzantine mosaics of the San Marco Basilica. The same year, he obtained a grand prize, the title of Officer of the Legion of Honor and other orders. In 1883, he took part in the Universal Exhibition in Amsterdam and in 1887 published a book entitled La Faïence. He also became director of the Manufacture de Sèvres, entrusting the management of his workshop to his brother; the Maison House will last until 1905.
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