Friday, April 23, 2010

Picture Day Friday

Copyright by The Hermitage

This image is of a salt-cellar with mythological personages. It's from the middle to late 16th century from the Limoges Enamel collection at The Hermitage.

During the Renaissance, the city of Limoges, in the Limousin region of France, developed into a center of artistic production of the French applied art. Historically, since the Middle Ages, Limoges was famous for its pitted enamels on copper émail champlevé. (Yes, note the word, e-mail.) In the sixteenth century, the type of enameled painting changed from filling pits in the copper with enamel powder to applying it to the copper foundation with a spatula or brush and then firing it to form a glass-like surface.

Beginning in the middle of the 16th century there was production of plates, bowls, salt-cellars and ladles. Because of the fragility of the enamel layer, these objects did not have a functional application. They were intended to decorate interiors and as a rule were exhibited on the shelves of cupboards and sideboards, attesting to the wealth of their owners.


Nicola Cornick said...

What a fascinating bit of material culture, Keira. I'm intrigued by the idea of making functional objects that couldn't be used because of the fragility!

Keira Soleore said...

I found this very puzzling that is why I had to put it up here. Then I remembered the ornate bejeweled gold wine goblets, etc. Perhaps it's meant to be given in a trousseau to be used one time or something, but displayed at weddings to show off wealth?

Nicola Cornick said...

Yes, definitely for display and boasting rights, I think! Though I love the idea of one time special use.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Keira, how spectacular! Actually I've been to Limoges - I love the porcelain they produce there although there are a couple of major artists in enamel who still operate in the area. Well, at least there were in 1985. They're probably all making goblets for the heavenly host by now!

Keira Soleore said...

"They're probably all making goblets for the heavenly host by now!"

Have I said lately how much I love you?

My only connection to Limoges was that I worked with a guy for a couple years who was from there. He was responsible for my relative fluency then in French. Made me discuss even techie work in French. I bet he still has nightmares to this day from that time.

Keira Soleore said...

Nicola, perhaps that's the latent desire in me to own something that can be put on display later but as a commemoration of a special event.