Saturday, March 23, 2013

Massier-Vallauris, French Faience

What I love the most about this crazy business is the knowledge that there is always something more to learn or discover. My St. Patrick's Day post touched briefly on the very large pair of antique French faience urns that I had just purchased. When I went to the shop on Tuesday I was determined to find the maker's marks and /or signature on the urns. Sure enough, here is the mark stamped on the front of one of the urns. I need some help to look for the marks/signature on the bottom of the urns...tomorrow.

It turns out that my urns were made by Jerome Massier fils at Vallauris (shown on the impressed mark). I had some rudimentary knowledge of Vallauris being a pottery center as many French mid-century ceramics were created in Vallauris (including the ceramic works by Picasso), but had no knowledge of the very long history of pottery making in the region. The discovery of the mark set me on a quest to learn more about this particular maker and when the urns were created.
I love the internet!! Google turned up quite a bit of information regarding Jerome Messier Fils and the history of the Massier Family and ceramic fabrication in Vallauris. Below is a photo of the United Jerome Massier and Delphin Massier's art pottery works from just before the turn of the 20th century.

There is a historical record of the Massier family having worked as potters in the area of Vallauris from the mid 18th century. The record becomes more detailed with the works of Jacques Massier father of Clement and Delpin and uncle of Jean-Baptiste Massier (Jerome Massier fils).
These three Massier ceramists were responsible for the renaissance of art pottery/ceramics in Vallauris. At one point their factories employed several hundred workers, including well known artists and sculptors. The photo above shows the factory of the "United" Massiers, Jerome (Jean-Baptiste) and Delphin. After the deaths of these founding members of modern French ceramic arts, their daughters carried on with  management of the factories until the closing of the  last Massier factory in 1990. The Massier art potters were some of the initial exponents of the Art Nouveau movement. In addition, Clement is famous for his invention of metallic lustres glazes and for his creative  innovative designs. I'll post a couple more photos of the factories.


My pots date to the late 19th century and are in the Renaissance style of the period. They exhibit very detailed modeling and glazing. I was able to find a few examples of pots of a similar size, but in the Art Nouveau style. Both examples were from Christie's Auctions. The following examples are also Renaissance style, but tending to art nouveau, pots with their original faience pedestals. I do not know if my examples originally sat upon pedestals. Needless to say--the urns together with the pedestals are true works of innovative arts.

Here are images of my pots--they seem to pale a bit after these gorgeous exuberant  examples--but they hold their own. It must be remembered that many of these large pieces of artistic pottery were lost in the firing process due to effects of heating and cooling, making works of this large size quite desirable.


Have a wonderful Spring week-end. It is glorious here in Southern California.

Mary & Jones (and Cole)  


  1. Dear Mary,
    Your urns are fabulous and I really enjoyed the history behind them!
    We had a blizzard here last nigh; hopefully the last of the season!

    Art by Karena

    1. Hi Karena,
      Thank you. Hope that your weather starts becoming spring-like; it is gorgeous here and I'm sending it your way.
      xoxoxo Mary

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