France meets Japan. Japonism and 19th Century Tableware


Henri LambertRound dish© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
In 1866, wishing to embrace the revival of ceramics decorated by transfer printing, Eugène Rousseau sought the collaboration of the painter and engraver Félix Bracquemond. Bracquemond found inspiration for his animal and plant motifs (around 280), in Hokusai’s Manga (1815), Hiroshige’s Grand Series of Fishes (1830) and Taito’s Flower and Bird Paintings (1848), for his innovative, asymetric designs on plates featuring one primary image and two, usually smaller, supplementary images.

From its first presentation at the 1867 Universal Exhibition in Paris, this dinner service was very successful – and remained so. It was continued by Rousseau’s successors and produced by the manufacturers Creil & Montereau under successive company names, right up to 1938.

Henri LambertFlat plate© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
In 1874, at the Art and Industry Exhibition, Rousseau presented another Japanese-inspired table service, handed-painted this time. The designer, Henri Lambert, was an artist-decorator on porcelain. He, too, took inspiration from Hokusai and Hiroshige (Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido, 1854), but from their landscapes.
From 1884 Lambert had sole responsibility for the service, mainly producing small series of decorated plates, with motifs taken from Japanese works of the time, for example Bairei’s Album of 100 birds, 1881 and Kyosai’s Drawings for Pleasure, 1881.

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