Thursday, 28 February 2013

William Mussill - Ceramics as Art

The artist William Mussill (1826-1906) is best known for his work at Minton China Works in Staffordshire. He was their bird painter, like William Powell was for Royal Worcester, specialising in decorating art wares and special commissions. This plaque is typical of his work with brightly coloured birds painted in thick glazes on terracotta coloured pottery wall plaques and Moonflasks.

Whilst, he seemed to favour birds, his skill weren't limited to our feathered friends. Here is a series of Fish, finely painted on to porcelain and with a back stamp to confirm that this set was a special commission by the London retailer T G Goode & Co.

If you think you have found a work by him, it must be signed !! you will have to look carefully to find and read the signature. Sometimes the signature is boldly written in over glaze colours, but often un-readable. Other times he scratches through the painting, so the white porcelain shows through. Also, these signatures can be hidden within the foliage or weed !!

......... and finally a lobster !!

... not my usual subject. All a little bit too Victorian for me. However, you do not need to like art to appreciate the skill and quality and whilst you might dismiss them simply as china dinner plates, you should realise they are worth more than the waste majority of the prints I normally post about !!

Friday, 15 February 2013

Charles Samuel (1862-1938) - medals

I like these little puzzles and searches, trying to find pictures of medals or works of art illustrated in period publications or as with this one, on a postcard. There is some satisfaction when the search is successful and to see the item in full Hi-Res digital clarity.

This postcard and the associated medal were issued by the "Monnaie De Paris" mint to advertise this portrait medal of the Belgium poet, Iwan Gilkin (1858-1924) by Charles Samuel (1862-1938). I assume this was issued soon after his death in 1924, in a period of change in the style tastes of Europe, from the end of art nouveau to the then modern art deco. This medal seen to be caught at a crossroads, the portrait a simple clean depiction with a modern typeface, whilst the reverse looks back to the classicism that was in favour a few decades earlier.

The art Charles Samuel was born in Brussels, Belgium in 1862. Early in his career he trained to be a jeweller but changed direction when he went on to study to be a sculptor at the Royal Belgium Academy in Brussels. He exhibited widely including at the Paris Salon and the Ghent Salon, earning much critical success winning several awards.

other works by Samuel

He was awarded a silver medal at the Paris Exposition of 1889 for statue titled "In the Evening", with other major success following in 1900 when he won a gold medal at the Paris, Exposition Universelle.

His commercial works, included several commemorative monumental bronzes, such as the monuments to Charles De Coster in Ixelles (above) and the Belgium politician, Pierre Van Humbeeck (1829-1890)

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Thursday, 7 February 2013

S Grun - Medals

This medal has always made me smile - have a little laugh to myself. Why ?? perhaps it's my odd ball sense of humour that find the front and back of the this medal inappropriately funny. A lovely art nouveau maiden trumpeting the success of Mr & Mme Laurent being awarded -- The Cross of the Legion of Honour for Pork Butchers !! First prize for the best pork sausage !!

When the artist designed this medal front, I'm sure he didn't envisage it being used for such as prestigious award. The artist in this case is S Grun - German perhaps, not sure.

Although Grun has germanic sound to it, I think that this artist was probably French, only based on the medals seen. All are French and French event. I guess, there is no reason why he couldn't have been of German decent. By now you probably realise that I can't find any biographical information relating to this artist -- so all we left with are the medals.

There is a distinct progression of style from the classical related studies, all angels and putti, through art nouveau to a very clean art deco look.

Classical period up to c1915



a more art deco feel of the 1930's

animal studies seem to a speciality - I found several other design.

 There are no facts about S Grun, other than the medal and from these I suggest a working date of c1910 to 1940, although many of the award medals would have used for many years after.

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Wednesday, 6 February 2013

La De Smeth - Medals

Three Graces ?? or just 3 pretty ladies at an award ceremony ?? Whatever the story, it is a lovely art nouveau design bronze plaque presented to the exhibitors at the 1911 "Expositions de Turin et de Roubaix"

As with these European, but unlike British works, it is prominently signed by the artist. In this case, La De Smeth. This is not an artist that I had previously encountered, so it will be interesting to answer the who and when questions - if possible.

Full name was Louis-Antoine de Smeth (1883-1964) a Belgium born Sculptor/medallist and from the few dated examples found we see that he was working from c1910 until c1920. All examples exhibit art nouveau design influences rather the later art deco with it's stylised simplicity.

 A series from the collection of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

Despite the fact that his works can be found several major museum collections, none have any more information that his dates. All that seems to live on is his art - perhaps a reader can helps??

 Silver Plaquette struck c1915 to commemorate -
"Belgian Gratitude for United States Aid, 1914-15"

His work can be found collections and galleries across the world, including; Fitzwilliam Museum, Yale University Art Gallery, Los Angeles County Museum of Art and The British Museum,London.

Interesting most of the De Smeth references available relate to another Blegium artist, Hendrick De Smeth (1865-1940). I do wonder whether there is a family relationship ??

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