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Félix Bracquemond and the Decorative Arts
Félix Bracquemond, Hirondelle de mer, circa 1905, broderie de soie, collection particulière.

LIMOGES, FRANCE.- Musée national de la Porcelaine-Adrien Dubouché presents Félix Bracquemond and the Decorative Arts, on view through July 4. Félix Bracquemond (1833-1914) left his mark on the art world in the late nineteenth century. He was a painter but better known for his prints and for his friendship with artists such as Manet, Degas, Rodin and Chéret.

He played an important role in the revival of the decorative arts in France in the second half of the nineteenth century.

Bracquemond’s influence on ceramics was original and particularly remarkable, starting with his ‘Rousseau’ dinner set which was first presented at the Universal Exhibition of 1867 and remained in production until the 1930s.

From 1872 to 1881, he directed the research laboratory of the porcelain factory that Haviland had opened in the Auteuil district in Paris. He excelled in dinner services and unique ceramic pieces that he made himself or supervised. But Bracquemond was also interested in other fields of the decorative arts, designing furniture, tapestry, embroidery, gold work, glass, and book bindings for Baron Vitta, around 1900, especially for La Sapinière, a villa in Evian; Rodin and Jules Chéret also worked on this project. Tapestries and the Bracquemond sitting room (furniture, carpets) were commissioned by the Manufacture des Gobelins then under the direction of Gustave Geffroy, another friend and very active supporter.

Bracquemond followed a highly original path in these various creations, developing his own theories on the nature of decoration and ornamentation (expounded in his book Du Dessin et de la couleur, 1885, and in many articles), which set him apart from various “professional” decorators and ceramists. It led him from a revolution in decoration and ceramics inspired partly by Japanese art, of which he is officially the first ‘discoverer’ in the mid-nineteenth century, to a specifically French form of “total decoration” which paralleled experiments in the international Art Nouveau movement, to which he brought his very personal concept of ‘ornament’.

The exhibition explores new ground: although Bracquemond is no longer unknown as a printmaker, his contribution to the decorative arts is mentioned only fleetingly in a few works and exhibitions.

Designed in close collaboration with Jean-Paul Bouillon, a specialist in the artist’s work and the author of the catalogue, the exhibition brings together for the first time all Bracquemond’s known works in the decorative arts, about two hundred in all. It offers a fine opportunity to put a number of drawings, some of which have never been shown in France, alongside the pieces for which they were done. Several of these works are in private collections and were previously unknown. The exhibition is therefore a real revelation for art lovers and specialists of nineteenth century art.

An exhibition organised by the Réunion des musées nationaux, the musée national de la Porcelaine-Adrien Dubouché, Limoges, the Deutsches Porzellan Museum, Selb-Plössberg, and the musée départemental de l’Oise, Beauvais. It will be shown at the Deutsches Porzellan Museum from 25 July to 25 October 2005 and at the musée départemental de l’Oise from 15 November to 14 February 2006. Media partner: France Bleu Limousin.

Musée national de la Porcelaine-Adrien Dubouché, 8 bis place Winston Churchill, 87000 Limoges, France - Tel. + 33 (0)5 55 33 08 50

Open every day from 10 to 12:30 a.m. and from 2 to 5:45 p.m. Closed on Tuesdays and 1st May.Admission: full price € 4, concession € 2.6, groups € 57 (20-30 people). Free on the first Sunday of the month and for children under 18. Concession on Sundays and for 18-25 year olds. Exhibition ticket valid for the permanent collections.

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