A monumental Choisy-le-Roi Maiolica vase modelled by Louis Carrier Belleuse, circa 1880
This vase has a wide collar on which an all around decoration in relief unfolds, depicting a swirl of putti having fun with the Moon in a heavenly backdrop of stars and clouds, as an allegory of astronomy. The body of the vase has a continuous backdrop of flowers and foliage narrating two main stages from Mythology: Urania admiring the stars on one side and the awakening of Aurora on the other. In a setting of ancient remains of balusters and ionic columns, the muse Urania studies the sky through her telescope, while one of her disciples, an Ouranie, takes notes on her speech. Aurora is voluptuously lying on a bed of flowers and foliage of fields in high-relief, her face still asleep. The harmony of this vase is not only thematic, but also chromatic. Thus, the pedestal with blue ogee curves echoes the night.
This vase is a reflection of the creativity of Carrier-Belleuse, subtly harmonizing his neo-rococo and neoclassical inspirations. It focuses on the description of the complicated rendering of the atmosphere of heaven, floating edges of drapery, hair which frames faces. To acknowledge the reality of the details, the artist cut the clay still wet, after completing the general form. In the tradition of his father, he applied the human figure to the decorative arts, especially the female figure. His ability to make realistic characteristics on his models gave Carrier-Belleuse great fame.
Louis-Robert Carrier-Belleuse (1848-1913) was the son of Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse, of whom he was a student. At the school of fine arts he took lessons taught by Gustave Boulanger and Alexandre Cabanel. In 1877, he acquired his first experiences with ceramic from Theodore Deck. From 1870 onwards, he exhibited frequently at the Salon. At the 1881 exhibition, he won the prize for best painter, then for the best sculptor in 1889. This vase (or another example) was presented at the Salon in 1902 by the earthenware factory of Choisy-le-Roi where Carrier-Belleuse worked as art director.
Among his works: The National Monument of Costa Rica, A Little Curious at the Museum of Rochefort, The Little Chimney Sweeps, Bearers of flour at the Petit Palais Museum (1885). His works are also kept at the Dahesh Museum, New York; Museum of Art and Archaeology, Moulins, France and the Musée d'Orsay, Paris.