Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Gilded lily!

vase and cover Sevres porcelain 1770

On a recent visit to London, I happened to drop by the Wallace Museum.   It houses the finest collection of Sevres porcelain in the world and to say it was a feast for the eyes is an understatement.  The cabinets grouped the display into various stages of the French porcelain factory’s history from its early days, then its subsequent move to Sevres,  through the exuberance of the 18th century Rococo period with the patronage of Louis XV and his mistress Madame de Pompadour finially to the Revolutionary period.  Some of the pieces were just jaw-droppingly audacious- outrageous pairings of turquoise and candy pink- gilded and decorated to the point of disintegration.  My pulse was racing and my brain was trying to take on board how human beings could produce such craftsmanship and attention to detail, in the days of no mechanization and technology as we know it. It was so exciting for me to know that the human spirit could go that far in celebrating an art form, exploring and expanding its language to its extremities and back again, and  producing such visual perfection. Truly a visual celebration of a time past, and one which I wholly recommend, well worth visiting again and again.
And if you have any more time  to spare after all that... continue looking around because the museum’s collection of Italian majolica ware dating from the second half of the fifteen century to the late sixteenth century is another veritable  feast for the eyes.  The wine cooler dated 1574 is over 2 foot long and that wide again!  The incredible thing about ceramics is that when they are in perfect condition, like they all are in this collection, then they look exactly like they would have looked 500  odd years ago, aren’t we lucky!!!
Italian Maiolica Wine Cooler 1574 

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