Posted 6 years ago
Clement Massier, largely with the assistance of Levy-Durhmer, is often credited with introducing Symbolist movement motifs to Art Nouveau pottery, but it was his older brother Delphin Massier who often would take those Symbolist motifs and forms and turn up the aesthetic to eleven. This electrically iridescent vase, of which I know of three examples, is particularly interesting for the addition of painted insects on the vase neck and back, which adds to the mystery and allure of the piece. Delphin was arguably better than Clement in bringing out strong iridescence in his pieces, which can clearly be seen here. The intense colors and shine would gives the impression this piece is constructed of carnival glass, not luster glazed stoneware. Dimensions: 9” (height) x 3.25” (base width).
The form, which can be viewed as either ominous or ascendant, in combination with the addition of insects, make me wonder if the studio artist who worked on it was acutely aware of Baudelaire's "Hymn to Beauty."
Did you spring out of heaven or the abyss,
Beauty? Your gaze infernal, yet divine,
Spreads infamy and glory, grief and bliss,
And therefore you can be compared to wine.
Your eyes contain both sunset and aurora:
You give off scents, like evenings storm-deflowered:
Your kisses are a philtre: an amphora
Your mouth, that cows the brave, and spurs the coward.
Climb you from gulfs, or from the stars descend?
Fate, like a fawning hound, to heel you've brought;
You scatter joy and ruin without end,
Ruling all things, yet answering for naught.
You trample men to death, and mock their clamour.
Amongst your gauds pale Horror gleams and glances,
And Murder, not the least of them in glamour,
On your proud belly amorously dances.
The dazzled insect seeks your candle-rays,
Crackles, and burns, and seems to bless his doom.
The groom bent o'er his bride as in a daze,
Seems, like a dying man, to stroke his tomb.
What matter if from hell or heaven born,
Tremendous monster, terrible to view?
Your eyes and smile reveal to me, like morn,
The Infinite I love but never knew.
From God or Fiend? Siren or Sylph ? Invidious
The answer — Fay with eyes of velvet, ray,
Rhythm, and perfume! — if you make less hideous
Our universe, less tedious leave our day.
— Roy Campbell, Poems of Baudelaire (New York: Pantheon Books, 1952)
The older brother of Clément Massier, Delphin Massier (1836-1907) had inherited his share of the family ceramics business upon the death of their father Jacques in 1871. When Clément relocated to one of the family properties in southern Vallauris, Delphin moved elsewhere in Vallauris, leaving Jacques's factory to a second cousin, Jean Baptiste Massier (son of Jerome Massier). Delphin specialized in polychrome enameled faience destined for home and garden. During the Art Nouveau years, he mastered the metallic luster glazing. Considering how close the brothers were, it is likely that Delphin learned the basic techniques for luster production from Clement, who had perfected them during the late 1880s. Delphin Massier's luster pieces are not as common as Clément's, but when found they typically have brilliant iridescence and Japonisme motifs.
Delphin Massier Awards
- 1891 Exposition, Cannes. Medaille d'or
- 1894 Exposition Internationale, Lyon. Medaille de bronze
- 1895 Exposition Internationale, Bordeaux. Medaille d'or
- 1897 Exposition Internationale, Bruxelles. Medaille d'or
- 1897 Exposition de la céramique et des arts du feu, Paris. Diplome d'honneur
- Les Massier: Cote cour, cote jardin. (2009). Musee Magnelli, Musee de la Ceramique de Vallauris. Silvana Editoriale.
- Clement Massier: Master of iridescence. (2006). Exhibition Catalog Jason Jacques Gallery, Nov. 3, 2006 - Feb. 4, 2007. Jason Jacques Gallery Press.