12/12/07 - Ferri

Rouen soft paste porcelain
Sold 200.375,00 euros - Etude Ferri, auctionner, Drouot, 12th December 2007

from the WENZ collection

Sold 200.375,00 euros

An exceptionnally rare and highly important Rouen soft paste porcelain covered mustard pot, of cylindrical shape, a domed-shaped cover, painted in blue with scrolls, draperies and foliate on a dotted blue ground, the finial painted with a flower and the handle with garland of flowers.
Silver mount.
Louis Poterat manufactory.
Third quater of 17th Century, 1673-1696.


It was still known in 1722 that French porcelain was created in Rouen.
Savary des Brûlons wrote in the first edition of the Dictionnaire universel du commerce :
"Fifteen or twenty years ago an attemps was made in France to copy Chinese porcelain : The first attemps made in Rouen were quite successful, (...) these faience objects from new factories are not ranked as French faience-this is the genuine porcelain invented by the French during the last few years and manufactured successively in Rouen, Passy near Paris, and then in Saint Cloud."

In the mid 19th Century, the information was re-discovered by André Pottier
He published in 1847 the text of the Royal Privilege given by Louis XIV to Edme Poterat in the name of his eldest son Louis by lettres patentes dated 1 October 1673.
The privilege allowed the Poterat to establish a manufacture of all kinds of dishes, pots and vases of porcelain identical to the porcelain of China, and faience, violet, painted in white and blue, and other colors in the manner of that of Holland
André Pottier, 1847.

We don’t know how the Poterat had discovered the secret of porcelain. In a recent article, Chantal Soudée Lacombe suggested that it could have comen by the link between the Poterat family and a young man from Rouen, nammed Jean Chardin, who went to Persia to sell jewels in 1665 and noted the receipes of the Safavides’ translucent ceramic.

On 19 June 1694, Louis de Phélypeaux, comte de Pontchartrain, aked Lefèvre d’Ormesson, intendant de la Généralité de Rouen, to establish a report on the manufactures of Louis Poterat and of his brother Michel.
This report states that Louis, The eldest son makes excellent Dutch faience and porcelain, while his brother Michel and the widow of their father do possess the secret of porcelain, but they make little use of it, concentrating primarily on faience but Louis is more skilled at porcelain making than they are.

In 1694, Louis Poterat was still producing porcelain but he declared that he dared not make fine porcelain in any but tiny quatities, and by his own hand, without the assistance of his workers..

The death of Louis Poterat in 1696 is likely the end of the production of porcelain in Rouen.

Following the publication of André Pottier in 1847, Riocreux, curator at the Sèvres museum wrote a letter to the author to draw his attention to a mustard pot painted with a coat of arms the museum had recently acquired. He thought it could be attributed to Rouen because the decoration ressembled that of the earliest faience of Rouen and because he bought the mustard pot from a child of Normandy, a native of the town of Caubedec, who told Riocreux that it was a family piece, handed down from father to son for more than a century.

Subsequently Pottier identified the coat of arms on the piece as that of Jacques Asselin de Villequier (1669-1728), who was a counselor to the Parliament of Normandy in 1695.

This mustard pot is still preserved in the Sevres museum. It is of indetical shape as ours, with a similar greenish paste, the deocration on the handle is also similar as the ground made of blue dots imitating silverworks.

After Riocreux purchase, Pottier himself bought a glass cooler which is today preserved in the Rouen museum. Its decoration is very closed to the Sevres mustard pot.

Six other porcelain are today considered as Rouen soft paste porcelain :

-  a pot pourri without cover formely in the Chavagnac collection(his sale Paris, Me Baudouin, 19-21 june 1911, lot 4), then with Mrs Paul Dupuy, (Sotheby Parke Bernet, 3 avril 1948), then with R. Thornton Wilson, who gave it to the Metropolitan Museum of New York.

-  A similar pot pourri without cover in a private collection.

-  A covered pot pourri formely in the Masurel collection.

-  A sugar caster formely in the Tumin collection.

-  A cylindrical pot formely in the Laniel collection .

-  An ovoïd vase in the Saumur museum, France.

Our mustard pot shares with this group the greenish paste, the similar bands with crossed ribbons and flowers on a blue ground, the dotted blue ground.

Our mustard pot, which is unrecorded, of great rarity, of typicallly French design with no Chinese influence, of perfect condition is an exceptional porcelain.

Literature :
André Pottier, « Origine de la Porcelaine en Europe », Revue de Rouen et de la Normandie, février 1847.

André Pottier, Histoire de la Faïence de Rouen, publication posthume en 1870, p. 97.

M.L. Solon, « The Rouen Porcelaine », Burlington Magazine, 7, n° 26, mai 1905.

Paul Alfassa et Jacques Guérin, Porcelaines françaises du XVIIe au milieu du XIXème siècle, s.d, vers 1930,

Xavier de Chavagnac et Gaston de Grollier, Histoire des manufactures françaises de porcelaines, Paris, 1906, p. 1-7.

Frégnac, Les Porcelainiers du XVIIIème siècle français, 1964,

Gilles Grandjean, « The Porcelain of Rouen »¸ Discovering the Secrets of Soft Paste Porcelain at Saint Cloud Manufactory, ca. 1690-1766, Bard Graduate Center for the Studies in the Decorative Arts, New York, 1999, (ouvrage collectif sous la direction de Bertrand Rondot)

Chantal Soudée Lacombe, « L’apparition de la porcelaine tendre à Rouen chez les Poterat, l’hypothèse protestante ? », Sèvres, Revue de la société des Amis du Musée national de Céramique, n° 15, 2006, p. 29-35.