Gien Pottery Factory

Gien Pottery featured image

Gien Pottery. This company is often known simply as Gien Pottery, after its location in that city. It was established in 1822 by Merlin Hall, the English founder of Creil & Montereau, which specialised in earthenwares decorated with English scenes to appeal to the English market. On the other hand, the pottery in Gien specialised in traditional style French earthenwares with scenes and motifs taken from French historical sources (as on this plate), heraldic emblems, and contemporary politics. 

In 1856 it came under the ownership of Geoffroy, Guérin & Cie. After that, it was exhibited at international exhibitions in Paris (1844, where it won an award) and 1867, in London (1862) and Vienna (1873). By the late 1880s, it was being criticised for decorated surfaces imitating materials such as wood. It was praised for the increasingly immense size of its wares – some vases reached 3 metres in height and 1.2 metres in diameter. 

Royal Commissions

It became well-known for its blue decoration, known as ‘bleu de Gien’. Some of the first exhibits on display are the magnificent oversized vases, over 2m high, made for the 1900 Universal Exhibition.

The factory was commissioned by European royal families to produce dinner services; made tiles for the interior walls of the stations of the Paris Métro. It became known for its inexpensive faience ware. Its freelance designers from the 1970s included Isabelle de Borchgrave, Jacqueline Deyme, Eliakim, Paco Rabanne, Jean-Pierre Cailléres, Christian Duc, Pascal Mourgue, Martin Szekely, Jean-Michel Wilmotte, and Garouste et Bonetti.

Recognition

Received medals at exhibitions including 1839 (bronze), 1844 (bronze), 1855 (bronze), 1867 (silver), 1878 (gold), 1889 (grand prize), and 1900 Paris ‘Expositions Universelles’ and at 1876 Philadelphia ‘Centennial Exposition’ (gold), 1879—80 ‘Sydney International Exhibition’ (gold), 1873 London ‘Third Annual International Exhibition’ (bronze), 1873 Vienna ‘Welt-Ausstellung’ (bronze), and 1878 exhibition (bronze) in Amsterdam.

Sample of Ceramic Plate

This plate was purchased as an example of an approved design for the students of the National Schools of Design, South Kensington (V and A).

Plate painted blue. Gien Pottery (V and A)
Plate painted blue. Gien Pottery (V and A)

Gien – Google Maps

Sources

Barbour, P. (1997). France: The Loire. Cadogan.

Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The design encyclopedia. Laurence King Publishing. https://amzn.to/3ElmSlL

Campbell, G. (2006). The Grove Encyclopedia of decorative arts. Oxford University Press.

Museum, V. and A. (n.d.). Plate: V&A explore the collections. Victoria and Albert Museum: Explore the Collections. Retrieved January 21, 2022, from https://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O255928/plate-geoffroy-guerin/

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