The French equivalent of majolica, barbotine is a type of ceramic made from kaolin clay. Often used to make vases (such as this hand-painted one by Edouard Gilles, circa 1880), the clay is manipulated into a paper thin fineness and folded many times to form realistic flowers. The process is a painstaking one, as each flower take months to craft, and the smallest error could lead to damage when the vase was fired.
Our vase has a variegated black to light gray background that is dotted with brown branches containing blue flowers with yellow stigmas. The gros (or high) relief flowers have been painted various shades of pink, complete with pale green and light blue leaves. A pair of small “ears”, also painted with gradient colors, flank each side of the oval opening. The bottom of the vase has several production marks, including an “E.G” for Edouard Gilles.
Known for exquisite artistry in creating large relief decoration barbotine, Gilles owned and operated his atelier in Paris. Gilles was personally well received for his elaborate and naturalistic floral work. The studio had a relatively short production run (1868-1884), making our beautiful French barbotine vase a rare decorative element to be placed on a mantel or small accent table.
CONDITION: Good antique condition with fleabites to flowers and a small repair to one. Minor paint losses and light buildup to interior, commensurate to age and use.