In the eye of Hugo Greiner: Amphora attributed to Charles Bozonnet

Between fascination and fantasy, the great ancient civilizations were a source of inspiration for artists and artisans in the 19th century. In 1810, the Florentine Giuseppe Micali published a work on the Etruscans. This was followed by the discovery between 1827 and 1833 of burials in Tuscany which contributed to a new enthusiasm for this culture. The decorative arts of this period are marked by the great rediscoveries of the ancient worlds. Hugo Greiner presents us with a terracotta amphora, attributed to Charles Bozonnet and a perfect example of these ancient influences...

This amphora dates from the years 1830-1840, years corresponding to the rediscovery of the Etruscan civilization, which will fascinate the creators of this time and will give rise to a real fashion.

This work was made by Charles Bozonnet, a potter from Bourg en Bresse. A great admirer of the writings of Alexandre Dumas, he was strongly inspired for this piece by Ascanio, a novel published in 1842, dealing with ancient subjects. A particularly striking fact, Charles Bozonnet is quoted in "Causerie", an autobiographical short story from 1857 by Alexandre Dumas, which mentions a meeting between the writer and the potter. In this writing, Alexandre Dumas mentions an order for three amphorae from Charles Bozonnet, the description of which is extremely close to the piece presented here. Although we cannot say for certain, it could be probable that this work is the result of this famous commission.

Let's study the decor more precisely... Taking the typical form of Etruscan amphoras, this piece is the result of a mixture of influences from the great ancient civilizations. The incised representations on the terracotta may recall the Hellenistic culture and the culture of Minos, although the graphic language is drawn more from ancient Egypt.

The upper edge, stylized and fluted, is particularly influenced by Greco-Latin decorations. The small heads appearing on the handles are very Greek and Etruscan.

On the belly of the amphora, we find almost a bestiary, but with animals still linked to human beings, like this crocodile carrying a man on its back. The Egyptian influence is strong, especially when observing the scenes of slavery represented in this decor. In these ornaments, Charles Bozonnet does not intend to be precise, the proportions, shapes and details are deliberately made in a naive way. What is interesting is the profusion of ideas. When we look at these scenes, we can see something touching the mystical.

This decoration is an interpretation that one could have, at that time, of old pieces prior to the classical period. This amphora is a real document on the gaze that was then placed on archaeology.

Totally in the style of Villa Kerylos, this amphora has a strong decorative value, but beyond this aspect, the story behind it makes it a major collector's item.




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