Lyon and Montpellier
With new archival research conducted by faience specialists in France, some factories have been rediscovered and some pieces reattributed. For example, many pieces previously thought to be from Moustiers or Marseilles have now been attributed to Montpellier, a city on the Mediterranean, about ninety-five miles west of Marseille. Decorated with cherubs, grotesques, and draperies in the spirit of Jean Bérain, the two Montpellier platters painted in monochrome blue (cats. 47, 48) were until very recently thought to have been made in Moustiers.
Lyon once again became a center of faience production in the second half of the eighteenth century after the city had introduced the technique in France, and briefly produced the first example of French faience, at the end of the sixteenth century. Eighteenth-century pieces were often decorated with small Asian and European characters — sometimes figures from the commedia dell’arte, such as the platter with the harlequin (cat. 71) — surrounded by birds, insects, and flowers, following a pattern developed at Moustiers. Lyon potters also produced pieces with single scenes after contemporary French engravings, also surrounded by birds, insects, and flowers. A fine example of this is the platter attributed to the manufactory known as “de la Borne Feuillée” (The Leafy Bollard) (cat. 72).
Moulins and Sinceny
During the second half of the eighteenth century, smaller workshops established elsewhere in France expanded the production of faience and featured new types of decoration and forms that were characteristic of each region and manufactory. A new center emerged in 1727 in Moulins, near Nevers. Three pieces (cats. 73, 74, 75) reflect the originality and high quality of faience made outside larger centers of production. The two plates, in particular, demonstrate the ambitions and virtuosity of painters at Moulins with their depiction of scenes and motifs originally painted by the French artist Alexis Peyrotte and later engraved by Gabriel Huquier.
Founded in 1737, the Sinceny manufactory in Picardy is equally renowned for its quality and originality. It successfully distinguished itself from nearby Rouen with decoration influenced by Japanese and Chinese porcelain (cats. 69, 70).