Sérusier, Bonnard & Vuillard

My earlier post about Paul Gauguin’s ceramics has received a large number of hits. Due to the interest, I’m providing some additional, if limited, information about several other French painters who knew or worked with Gauguin and also did ceramics: Paul Sérusier, Pierre Bonnard and Édouard Vuillard.

Paul Sérusier

Paul Sérusier painted with Paul Gauguin at Pont-Aven in northern France in the mid-1880s. Sérusier also made a limited number of ceramic pieces, including this one, entitled Bretonnes from circa 1885, which was in a Swiss private collection and auctioned by Christie’s in 2006.

Notes from the Christie’s catalogue state “Ceramics by Paul Sérusier are extremely rare. This example, Bretonnes, is made of moulded plaster as is suggested by the two vertical seams along the vase, and was painted by the artist. It is not glazed, which gives it a matt and watercolour-like surface.” Unlike Guaguin whose ceramic work is often quite sculptural, Sérusier’s piece here retains a traditional vase-like form.

After painting with Paul Gauguin at Pont-Aven, in 1888 Paul Sérusier founded a group of artists called The Nabis who flourished as a group until 1900, and then disbanded. Amongst The Nabis are two painters who also created some ceramics: Pierre Bonnard and Édouard Vuillard.

Pierre Bonnard

Also auctioned by Christie’s in the same 2006 lot is this fine example of a ceramic vase by Pierre Bonnard entitled “Petit Vase: Scène de Rue.”

Again quoting from the Christie’s catalog:

Exceptional in technique, subject matter, and execution, Petit vase: scène de rue is an exquisite and rare ceramic from Bonnard’s Nabis period. Like his fellow Nabis, the artist had a universal interest in art. He worked in various techniques and on different supports, including screens, fans, furniture, stained glass, and ceramics. Today very few of his ceramics survive.

Bonnard was introduced to ceramics by his dealer, Ambroise Vollard, who commissioned and owned this vase made of unglazed painted Sèvres porcelain. Vollard himself had developed an interest in ceramics after visiting an exhibition of decorative arts, and he subsequently steered his artists towards working with professional ceramicists. The ceramicist of the present work is not known – but it was possibly André Metthey who shaped the vase before Bonnard painted it.

Édouard Vuillard

Édouard Vuillard’s ceramic output is more substantial, or at least I found more examples of his work online. In 1894 Louis Comfort Tiffany commissioned several Nubis painters, including Vuillard, to create designs for stained glass windows. These stained glass windows were exhibited in 1895, where a young Swiss art critic named Jean Schopfer immediately commissioned Vuillard to create a set of porcelain dishes for use as a dinner service for his upcoming wedding. Vuillard accepted the commission and worked directly on porcelain blanks in Sept 1895 in the studio of the ceramicist Georges Rasetti. Because Vuillard hand painted each blank, each piece in the service is unique. The exact number of pieces in the wedding service is disputed, but sources confirm that Vuillard painted at least 84 items and perhaps as many as 144 items. Vuillard employed three colors per piece: a reddish brown, a deep cobalt blue, and green. Two examples from the set are shown below.

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