In the eyes of Laurence Vauclair: Focus on the Manufacture de Sèvres

Passionate about the "arts du feu", this technique bringing together three vital elements, earth, water and fire, Laurence Vauclair talks to us today about one of the French jewels, the Manufacture de Sèvres and highlights one of his works, “Children with a cornet” by Jean-Denis Larue…


Let us look at the history

The factory was created in 1740, initially in Vincennes was transferred to Sèvres in 1756 It produces soft porcelain then following the discovery of a kaolin deposit in France, the house will be able to produce hard porcelain, the start of the marketing of which is dated 1773

The Second Empire marks a revival at the Manufacture de Sèvres It now encourages new initiatives in technical matters If porcelain remains the spearhead of production, several workshops are born to encourage another form of ceramics The earthenware workshop and glazed earthenware, active between 1852 and 1872 renews production by seeking new effects

At the end of the 19th century, other important factories such as Sarreguemines and Minton produced important artistic pieces in slip. The Manufacture de Sèvres, having always been in step with the times, was therefore to develop a similar technique which it would call paste- sur-pâte The slip will really become an artistic current in its own right and will mark a turning point that will make the art of ceramics evolve in a strong way.

And today ?

The Manufacture de Sèvres is a house which has always been attentive to new trends and which has always questioned how to develop the material Still today, Sèvres manufactures its paste and is the only Manufacture in France to do it !

It has a rich heritage that can be discovered when the old-fashioned ovens are open (during heritage days) It is extraordinary to understand how these ovens worked and what the risks were during their use The craftsmen took turns nights and days in order to operate the oven during the cooking time. Many pieces were baked there at the same time, for the sake of economy, and so we built floors, buffers, so that the pieces did not collapse. on others

Today, the pieces are made in a place called "le Moulin" Sèvres also has a fabulous enameling workshop You have to imagine a large bath of thick liquid in which a craftsman will, with a gesture of a certain dexterity, dive the piece in one round trip It is then enamelled and can go into the oven These gestures which constitute the stages of manufacture of a ceramic: turning, enamelling, placing the decorations, are ancestral, immutable, and are perpetrated at the Manufacture de Sèvres

In Sèvres, all the molds have been kept from the start in a fantastic place On the occasion of a particular event, they decide to take over the mold of a historic piece and create a new decor This can be done by the Elysée when ordering new services for the arrival of a new president, or when ordering a gift for the Queen of England's jubilee

Laurence Vauclair's favorite piece

This is a work made in 1863 by Jean-Denis Larue (1815-1884) entitled "Children with a cornet", in enamelled earthenware and slip and from the Manufacture de Sèvres

We only know of three other examples of this superb vase..

Made in two parts, the pedestal for children and the vase itself, the piece displays monumental dimensions (152 x 59 cm)

This piece diverts the principles of ceramics to become a true piece of sculpture The utilitarian function of the vase disappears in favor of an abundance of details and the movement of the figures The children fit into a harmonious circle and retain a puffy drape reminiscent of the characters of baroque sculpture The design of the vase forces the viewer to turn around to appreciate the qualities of the work on all its sides If the piece is truly three-dimensional, it also seduces with its realistic approach Each element of the decor naturalist of the base is treated in the slightest detail to reconstruct a rocky landscape The figures offer an astonishing feeling of truth which is explained by Larue's working method which used living models to capture the feeling of life as closely as possible.

It is an extraordinary piece, a rare witness to a totally unknown production made in the earthenware workshop.