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A feat of great technical achievement, French faience was introduced to Lyon in the second half of the sixteenth century by skilled Italian immigrants: mdash;the French word "faience" deriving from the northern Italian city of Faenza. Over the next two centuries, production spread throughout the provinces of metropolitan France. The fine decoration of French faience draws inspiration from multiple sources--Italian maiolica, Asian porcelain, and even contemporary engravings. The forms of its platters, bowls, plates, and ewers derive mostly from European ceramics and silver. This complex interplay of influences comes together in works of great originality.The Knafel Collection of French faience, the finest in private hands, includes outstanding examples of Nevers, Rouen, Moustiers, Moulins, and Marseilles production from the late sixteenth to the mid-eighteenth century. The quality of these masterpieces almost obscures the fact that French faience was essentially a provincial art, largely patronized and commissioned by a local aristocracy and made far from the centres of political power in Versailles and Paris.
In this stunning new volume, Charlotte Vignon traces the history of French faience, offering detailed discussions of key centers of production. Illustrated with more than seventy examples, this valuable resource testifies to the creativity and beauty of an engagingly innovative tradition.
Charlotte Vignon is curator of Decorative Arts at The Frick Collection, as well as a Visiting Associate Professor at the Bard Graduate Center, New York. Vignon has organized a number of exhibitions at the Frick, including Precision and Splendor: Clocks and Watches at The Frick Collection (2014); Coypel's Don Quixote Tapestries: Illustrating a Spanish Novel in Eighteenth-Century France (2015); From S vres to Fifth Avenue: French Porcelain at The Frick Collection (2015); Porcelain, No Simple Matter: Arlene Shechet and the Arnhold Collection (2016) and Pierre Gouthi re: Virtuoso Gilder at the French Court (2016). Vignon has contributed to several publications, most recently, the volume accompanying the Gouthi re exhibition. She is also the author of The Frick Collection Decorative Arts Handbook (2015). A native of France, Vignon received her Ph.D. from the Sorbonne, Paris, with a dissertation on the dealings of the Duveen Brothers in European decorative arts and Chinese porcelain between 1880 and 1940. She has held fellowships at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and The Frick Collection, where she was an Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellow.