Popular during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Art Nouveau was a style of decorative arts and architecture that incorporated movement inspired by natural items such as plants and flowers. This pair of large gros relief barbotine vases were hand-painted in France at the end of the Art Nouveau period, circa 1910.
Although the vases have identical forms (reminiscent of classic Greek amphora vases), there are subtle variations to the color palette, most noticeably the background, the neck, and the handles. One of the vases has a variegated turquoise and dark green background and one vase was made with a light blue and brown backing (left and right, respectively, in the main photo). Both vases have branch-like arching handles, complete with growth nodes and visible xylem and phloem, with a lifelike green and brown rendering. The fluted necks above have scalloped edges with a very pleasing blend of green, pink, and white.
On the front of each vase is a magnificent floral vine that consists of a stunning mix of gros-relief flowers and low-relief stems and leaves. The display has numerous small flowers trailing between two larger, multi-petaled flowers. Green, brown, and yellow leaves surround the vibrant flowers that include blue, purple, and red petals, many with yellow pistils. The time and work to finish one realistic flower, let alone several, was arduous, painstaking, and required extremely fine artistic talent. The clay was manipulated to a paper thin fineness, formed into layers of floral petals and leaves, colored and sometimes fired before applying more colors, applied to a vessel, and finally glazed and fired. During the firing, months of work could be ruined if one was not using the utmost caution. The process would then need to start over.
This large and impressive pair of period Art Nouveau barbotine vases can be used to hold fresh cut flowers or used decoratively on a mantel, table, or console.
CONDITION: Good overall antique condition, with fleabites and small losses to flowers on both vases. Some craquelure is present, specifically in and around the openings. Old losses were recently professionally re-colored with restoration to the base of one.