Sèvres’ Vase de l’Adour: A Closer Look
February 18, 2017—January 28, 2018
Nearly 100 years ago, in May 1917, Léonard Gébleux, a ceramic artist working for the State Manufactory at Sèvres, decorated a remarkable amphora-shaped stoneware vase with weeping willows and frogs jumping into water.
The Vase de l’Adour, which is bold and playful in its design, tells us about the new materials and techniques—stoneware and matte glazes—that Sèvres had perfected by 1917. It also tells us that Japanese art and design impacted how the vase was decorated, a story that begins in the second half of the preceding century with the opening of Japan to the West.
The circumstances of its production are also extraordinary. At the same moment he produced the vase, Gébleux and his fellow artists at this storied factory—which 150 years earlier had produced porcelain for the kings and queens of France—were also making containers for explosives to be used by the allies in World War I.
Images (left to right):
Vase, (vase de l’Adour), Manufacture Nationale de Sèvres, 1917, Stoneware, The Goodwin Art Purchase Fund, 2006.23.1; Vase detail; A la Manufacture de Sèvres, from Les Annales, August 20, 1916, photograph of a melangeur 0f 1,200 liters.