Posted 11 months ago
Large female bust entitled “Modesty” rendered in faience by the French Art Nouveau era ceramist Edmond Lachenal in his famed “mat email veloute’ ” glaze and modeled by the artist Horace Daillion. Signed on the reverse by Lachenal, who also noted Daillion as the artist. Limited production estimated at 2-5 exemplars in faience w/ monochromatic glaze, of which this is the only known surviving example. Dimensions: 17"(H) x 16"(L) x 8"(W).
Daillion exhibited the original marble version of this bust at the 1893 World Columbian Exposition in Chicago, after which he and Lachenal formed a collaborative relationship to reproduce the work in ceramic in very low numbers and by souscription. At the turn of the century, Lachenal had a reputation for the finest in ceramic modeling and glaze characteristics, and he produced ceramic sculptural pieces for Auguste Rodin (1895), Daillion (this piece, 1895), Agnes de Frumerie (1896-1906), Ferdinand Faivre (1897), Luca Madrassi (1894) and Max Blondat (1904).
This exceedingly rare faience version of “Modesty” was exhibited by Lachenal in a huge retrospective of his work at the Osterreichisches Museum fur Angewandte Kunst (MAK) in Vienna in 1901 and is also illustrated in a 1901 article about Lachenal written by F. Minkus for the German art journal, Kunst und Kunsthandwerk (Vol. 4, Issue 9, pp. 386-98; see picture above).
Edmond Lachenal (1855-1948) was a painter, sculptor, actor, and draftsman, but he was above all the most remarkable of the French Art Nouveau era ceramists. He worked for ten years for Théodore Deck and quickly rose to be head of his studio before striking out on his own in the Paris suburbs in 1880. His first ceramics were in the Iznik style, but from 1890 he turned to stoneware, then glazed stoneware, with a pronounced taste for Japanese forms and decors. It was his development and application of glazes, for which he is most famous. His “mat email veloute’ “ glaze was produced by a hydroflouric acid bath, which removed the glossy aspects of a standard glaze and rendered the surface texture soft and etheral and in many ways more elegant than the matte type glazes applied prior to firing and popular in the Arts & Crafts movement.
One of the interesting byways in Lachenal's career was the role he accepted in the 1890s as an editor of sculptural works by others, that is, casting and glazing the work of independent sculptors. In one sense this specialty was a natural extension of his career, since he was already casting his own models. This practice was already a major aspect of Émile Müller's firm, Tuileries d'Ivry. Then the idea was taken over by artisanal potteries such as that of Alexandre Bigot. The collaboration between sculptor and art potter had a special currency; the concept of a fusion of all the arts, both high and low, was frequently discussed.
The 1890s was a very productive and fruitful time for Lachenal, and he showed his work frequently. He exhibited annually, generally in late November or December, at the Galerie Georges Petit, one of the major Parisian venues for modern decorative arts. One of these exhibitions was the subject of The Studio article quoted at the beginning of this essay. Lachenal exhibited at the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts in the very first year it provided an official section for the decorative arts, and he continued to do so annually through 1905. He was a frequent participant at the exhibitions staged by the Union centrale des arts décoratifs, and in 1897 he began exhibiting annually at the Société des artistes français. His major triumph, though, was his stand at the Paris World's Fair in 1900, for which he was awarded a gold medal.
Shortly after 1900, Lachenal left ceramics and turned to the acting, leaving his workshop to his wife and his son Raoul in 1904. He acted with Sarah Bernhardt, with whom he was rumoured to have a liaison. He remarried in 1913 and devoted the remainder of his life to easel painting and pastels.
Horace Daillion (1854-1937) was a French sculptor, who exhibited frequently at the Paris Salons, for which he was awarded Prix du Salon in 1885 and the exhibited piece was purchased by the French government for their permanent collection. A few of his larger bronze sculptures are on public display around Paris, the most notable of which is entitled, “Le Genie du sommeil éternel (The Genius of Eternal Sleep),” and is centrally located in the Montparnasse Cemetery.
As noted earlier, he also exhibited (the original marble version of this “Modesty” bust) at the Columbian World Exposition in 1893. Similar to Lachenal, Daillion was awarded a gold medal for his sculpture entry at the Paris 1900 World Exposition, as well as a gold for his entry at the 1889 Exposition.