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1950

  • Work on this object began.

1951

  • Work on this object ended.

2000

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Jeux de Fonds - Astronomie Vase, 1951

This is a Vase. It was manufactured by Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory. It is dated 1951 and we acquired it in 2000. Its medium is molded, glazed and gilt porcelain. It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.

The object proposed for acquisition is a rare example of Sèvres porcelain dating from the early 1950s. Examples from the period immediately following World War II are scarce.
Much of French design in the early 1950s remained entrenched in a sensibility initially established in the 1940s, when high-style interiors and objects by designers such as Jacques Adnet, Gilbert Poillerat, Serge Roche, Emilio Terry, Raymond Subes, Jean Royère, and Jean Cocteau, were introduced to the marketplace. Evident in much of their work is an ample dose of the theatrical and the surreal, all of which borders on an almost mannerist tendency. Popular themes, often seen in stage design, window displays, table settings, and so forth, were astrology, the cosmos, and the sea.
This Sèvres vase displays symbols that appear to be from the Greek zodiac, along with calligraphy evocative of Arabic script. Its slightly metaphysical qualities are not unlike some of those seen in collaborations between Gio Ponti and Piero Fornasetti in Italy during the same period. These illustrative features are also somewhat reminiscent of Raymond Loewy's Script china for Rosenthal, also produced in the early 1950s. Works from Sèvres were always intended for a luxury market. Despite this, attempts were made to embrace modernism. The form of this particular vase was designed by Maurice Gensoli, who was active in the manufactory's design department from about 1925 through the late 1950s. Less is known about Rabaey, but his whimsical and elegant decoration is very suggestive of the period.
While the museum has very fine examples of Sèvres from both the 18th and 19th century, Jeux de Fonds - Astronomie would be the first strong piece of 20th-century Sèvres porcelain to join the collection. The vase is suggestive of a very rich period in French design and would enhance the museum’s holdings in 20th-century French works.
References:
Art et Industrie, 1948–51.
Connaissance des Arts, 1960, 52-57.
Bruno Foucart, Jean-Louis Gaillemin, and Yves Gastou, Les décorateurs des années 40 (Paris: Norma, 1999).
Jean-Paul Midant, Sèvres: la manufacture au XXème siècle (Paris: M. Aveline, 1992).

This object was featured in our Object of the Day series in a post titled Sèvres Porcelain Between Tradition and Innovation.

It is credited Museum purchase from Charles E. Sampson Memorial Fund.

  • Chinois Ly Vase, 1868
  • enameled porcelain with ormolu mounts.
  • Museum purchase from Decorative Arts Association Acquisition Fund.
  • 1988-83-1

Its dimensions are

H x diam.: 40.5 x 17 cm (15 15/16 x 6 11/16 in.)

It has the following markings

Imprinted on underside in gray-black underglaze: monogram comprised of interlaced "L"s and "Sèvres 51"; in circle the decoration mark inscribed on periphery: "Manufacture Nationale", and inscribed in center: "Décoré A Sèvres, K" (1951 date letter); painted by hand, in green underglaze: "AK d'après RABAEY126.50".

Cite this object as

Jeux de Fonds - Astronomie Vase, 1951; Manufactured by Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory (France); France; molded, glazed and gilt porcelain; H x diam.: 40.5 x 17 cm (15 15/16 x 6 11/16 in.); Museum purchase from Charles E. Sampson Memorial Fund; 2000-32-1

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://www-6.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18691513/ |title=Jeux de Fonds - Astronomie Vase, 1951 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=24 August 2019 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>