CHAPTER III

 

 

THE DEVELOPMENT OF ACADEMIC AND

CULTURAL INTEREST IN LA BORNE

AND THE TALBOTS SINCE THE

MID-NINETEENTH

CENTURY

 

      Though the products of La Borne and its sister villages had merited mention in a number of regional reports in the nineteenth century, these had been restricted to evaluating its production in terms of its industrial and commercial achievement and potential.  It was not until the latter half of the century, when interest in local and regional history was to stimulate the foundation of learned societies with such research as their aim, that attention was focused, tentatively at the beginning, on the decorative wares of La Borne, and inevitably, on those of the Talbots.  This was also the period when, it is said, the writer Champfleury would have wished to see engraved over the portals of the Ecole des Beaux Arts the citation, "Malheur aux productions de l'art dont la beauté n'est que pour les artistes', (l) a distillation of an aesthetic which hoped to find in the expressive naivety of popular art a source for the renewal of language and the plastic arts.  It was an aspiration shared by other members of the realist movement, notably the painter Courbet, and in an epoch where the academism of Ingres reigned supreme, Champfleury would unashamedly proclaim:

 

          '... Telle maladresse artistique est plus  à

          rapprocher de l'oeuvre des hommes de génie

          que ces compositions entre-deux, produits

          des écoles et des fausses traditions ...

          J'etends qu'une idole taillée dans un

          tronc d'arbre par les sauvages est plus

          près du Moïse de Michel-Ange que le plupart

          des statues des salons annuels ...' (2)

 

      In the memoires of the learned societies of Berry during the latter half of the nineteenth century, one only finds a slowly developing awareness that the historical significance of the simple products of popular culture had not only played a role in the development of civilization but, as importantly, that they may also possess an aesthetic value.  Progress, however, was to be slow, requiring more than half a century before the kinds of preoccupations which motivated Champfleury would begin to be realised.

 

 

          '... Retrouver l'art et l'image du peuple,

          réapprendre son language vigoureux et simple,

          ... tant sur l'oeuvre des frères Le Nain,

          que sur "les chansons des provinces de

          France", tant sur la caricature qui lui

          inspire une étude importante, que sur la

          céramique ou l'imagerie ...' (3)

 

      Subsequent to an archeological congress held in Bourges in 1849, the 'Commission Historique du Cher' was founded, to become in 1867, 'La Société Historique, Littéraire et Artistique du Cher'.(4)   In the same year 'La Comité d'Histoire et d'Archéologie du Diocèse de Bourges' was founded by the then Bishop of Bourges, Monsignor de la Tour d'Auvergne.  Other regional interests were eventually satisfied by such bodies as the 'Société Nivernaise,' 'La Société du Berry ˆ Paris' and 'Vocabulaire du Berry'. (5)

      The membership lists of these societies throw an interesting light upon the period.  The same surnames appear in each and reveal the extent to which members of prominent local families devoted their time and energy to such studies.  Included are professional men, mostly lawyers and architects as well as representatives of the aristocracy, many of whom held important positions in the regional and national administrations.  The efforts of most of these were devoted to the establishment and development of 'La Société des Antiquaires du Centre' which was founded in 1866.  Its articles were published in its second annual 'mémoires' in 1868 and the following give a general idea of its intentions:

 

          Art l  '... Elle s'occupe des travaux

          littéraires et scientifiques, et

          spécialement de tout ce qui a trait à

          l'ancienne province du Berry ...'

 

          Art 3  'Elle se compose de members titulaires

          ... et d'associés libres, résidants ou non

          résidants.  Ceux-ci pourront assister aux

          séances lorsqu'ils auront une communication

          à faire ou un travail à lire; ils reçoivent

          les publications de la Société et fournissent,

          autant que possible, les renseignements qui

          leur sont demandés.

 

          Art 5  La Société confère en outre le titre

          de correspondants aux savants et gens de

          lettres étrangers à l'ancien Berri, qui se

          mettent en rapport avec elle et lui envoient

          leurs travaux.

 

          Art ll  Le but de la Société est d'encourager

          et de faciliter par un lien commun les études,

          les recherches et les publications sérieuses.

          Elle constate et recueille, avant tout, ce

          qui atrait aux antiquités, aux monuments et à

          l'histoire des anciennes provinces du Centre.

 

          Chaque année elle publie un volume contenant

          le résume de ses travaux et les écrits lus par

          ses membres, ou transmis par des tiers, qui

          paraîtront dignes de l'impression.

 

          Art l2  Aucun écrit n'est inséré dans le

          recueil de la Société si, préalablement, il

          n'a été lu en entier ou par extrait a l'une

          de ses seances et si, en outre, il n'a été

          approuvé par le Comité de rédaction (6).

 

      In the 'Rapport sur les travaux de la Société des Antiquaires du Centre' of the same year (1868) the secretary reported with satisfaction that the society had remained 'fidèle à son programme et que ses investigations locales d'histoire et d'archéologie ne se sont pas ralentir.' (7)  The secretary was Eugène de Robillard de Beaurepaire, conseiller à la Cour Imperiale de Caen, and was, in accordance with Article 5, one of those figures from outside the province who linked the society to other regional and national learned bodies.  Other such personalities were another member of the Beaurepaire family, Charles, then Archiviste de la Seine - Inférieure and a member of the Académie de Rouen (8) and Arcis de Caumont, 'directeur de l'Institut des provinces et de la Société Française d'archéologie à Caen'. (9)  For the remaining few years of his life Arcis de Caumont was, despite his many other interests, a stalwart supporter and corresponding member of the society. (l0)  These years were also of particular interest for the pottery of the region since de Caumont had just published his 'Bulletin monumentale ou Collection de Mémoires sur les monuments historiques de France'. (8)  Published in l869, under the auspices of the 'Société Française d'archéologie pour la conservation et la description des monuments nationaux', it focused national attention on the products of the potteries of the region of Henrichemont for the first time, if only in a rather brief entry.  Despite this brevity, de Caumont's commentary revealed that his interest had been drawn, not only to the then flourishing utilitarian production but more, to the sculptural forms and functions of the fantasy-pottery.  (l2)  In addition to noting the épis de faîtage and decorated pichets, he directed his readers' attention in particular to those works which had a  religious character:

 

          '... C'étaient, soit d'énormes calvaires

          destinés à orner les carrefours des sentiers

          ombreux du Sancerrois, soit des croix de

          cimetière que les habitants de quelques

          communes rurales aimaient à placer sur la

          tombe des leurs ...' (l3)

 

      That some of these were still 'in situ' giving 'un cachet spécial aux sentiers d'Henrichemont', (14) was patently a source of pleasure for the author, yet his concluding remark is full of foreboding as he senses the arrival of that period when, through the ravages of time and the disinterest of man, these 'monuments rustiques' (15) will have completely disappeared.

 

          '... Nous ne croyons guère qu'il soit possible

          de lutter avec chance de succès contre le courant

          aveugle qui les emporte.  Mais, en prévision de

          leur disparition, nous avons voulu, en consignant

          ici l'impression qu'ils nous ont laissé, conserver

          leur sourvenir à l'adresse des rêveurs et des

          archéologues de l'avenir...' (16)

 

      It appears unlikely that de Caumont's warning had any immediate impact on the enthusiasts of local history.  In fact, it is doubtful if any of them were aware of the 'Bulletin Monumentale' for some time, since in 1869 only a reference was made to it in the mémoires of the Société des Antiquaires du Centre, and even then it was only quoted anonymously.  This was the occasion of the first of few articles devoted to the local ceramics which were to appear in its pages.  Entitled 'Document inédit pour servir à l'histoire de la céramique, etc..' it reported, discussed, and attempted to examine the significance of the contact made in 1657 between Thomas Panariou and Gilbert Sionnest.  (17)  The document had recently come into the possession of the author, Marie-Sylvan-Charles Vicomte du Ribault de Laugardière, who, although having been born in Bourges on 18th January, 1833, had only taken up permanent residence in that city in 1866, shortly after the founding of the Société des Antiquaires du Centre, to which he devoted most of his time until his death on 27th March 1914. (18)  In his preamble, de Laugardière focused on two aspects of the study of French ceramic history.  He was happy to note the state of one:

 

          '... Après avoir été une mode capricieuse et

          un engouement parfois désordonné, la recherche

          des poteries nationales, quels que soient leur

          âge, leur matière et leurs décoration, est

          devenue l'origine de travaux sérieux dont la

          réunion un jour, à quelque metteur en oeuvre

          habile et consciencieux, les éléments d'une

          véritable Encylopédie céramographique de

          France ...'  (19)

 

      In an obvious reference to de Caumont's observations on the pottery of Henrichemont, he continued:

 

          '... Elles ont attiré déjà l'attention d'un

          amateur delicat, dont je respecterai l'anonyme,

          (laissant aux meilleurs souvenirs de la Société

          des Antiquaires le plaisir de soulever ce voile),

          et qui leur a consacré dans le Bulletin

          Monumentale, une page que je demande la

          permission de lui emprunter ...(20)

 

      The article, in accordance with Articles 11 and 12 of the society, must have been read at a meeting of its members during the previous year, yet there is no evidence that either the Panariou-Sionnest contract or de Caumont's concerns were discussed.  Neither do the succeeding issues of the memoires of the Society indicate that de Laugardière's aspirations for investigations 'multiples et spéciales'  (2l) of  the local pottery had taken place; that is, as far as the traditional forms of La Borne were concerned.  Exhorting others to engage in a more intensive study of the region's ceramic history, he makes his own position clear:

 

          '... ce que je n'ai pas entrepris, d'autres

          seront peut-être un jour tentés de l'entre-

          prendre; je plante pour eux un jalon, heureux

          si la présente communication pouvait paraître

          digne d'attention à ceux qui, dans nos rangs,

          s'intérressent à la question céramique ...' (22)

 

      The author was able, however, to report some satisfaction in the fact that local attention was currently being focused on the pottery of the locality which 'auront leur intéressant chapitre dans une histoire toute nouvelle de Boisbelle et Henrichemont, que je sais en voie de preparation entre des bonnes mains.' (23)  There is no doubt that, in this instance, he was referring to the ongoing researches of the Archivist-Adjoint of the Département du Cher, Hippolyte Boyer. (2l) 

      In 1863, Mademoiselle Dupuychaud, who used the pseudonyn Amyé Cecyl, had published her 'Histoire du Royaume de Boisbelle'. (25)  Other than remarking that the villages of Les Talbots and La Borne were believed to have been peopled by a colony of English settlers, her only reference to the pottery was contained in a footnote:

 

          '... Le village de La Borne est habité

          particulièrement par des potiers chez lequels

          l'art céramique n'est pas sans posséder

          quelque valeur ... (26)

 

      In the 'Journal du Cher' of 5 and 8, September, 1863 Boyer had reviewed this recent publication, taking the occasion to announce that he himself was engaged in preparing a similar history with the intention of ultimate publication.  (27)  An article, emanating from his research and entitled 'Fondation de la Ville d'Henrichemont', was published in the 'Mémoires de la Société Historique de Cher' in 1873. (28)  At the time of his death on 26 March 1897 he left a considerable number of unpublished manuscripts one of which was that of his monumental "Histoire de la Principauté souveraine de Boisbelle - Henrichemont'  (29)  In the society's mémoires of 1898 (30) the hope was expressed that this work would soon appear in print and it was eventually published in the memoires from 1900 to 1903. (3l)  Boyer had devoted five pages to the pottery of La Borne, using as reference the information that had been furnished in Arcis de Caumont's 'Bulletin Moumentale'.

      Boyer's own researches in the archives of the Département du Cher had unearthed most, if not all, of the documents which were to provide the main documentary basis for the few subsequently published articles devoted to the pottery of the region of Henrichemont in general, and La Borne in particular.  While one might be justified in assuming that his findings would have been diffused in discussion with his many colleagues in the different learned societies, it is to be regretted, from the point of view of historical research, that his commentaries on La Borne had to await forty years before they were made available to a wider audience.  In the intervening years since the foundation of the 'Société des Antiquaires du Centre', the interests of its members, as evidenced by the articles published in it mémoires, were preoccupied with the more diverse, and possibly then more academically respectable, aspects of the region.  Successive volumes pursue, with interest, enthusiasm and dedication, the rediscovery of the rich Celtic, Roman, Gallo-Roman and Medieval past of the province of Berry.  One notable exception was the Rapport sur les travaux de la Société des Antiquaires du Centre 'of 1887, '88, '89 by the then secretary, Albert de Meloizes. Reproduced was an account by one of the founder members, Alphonse Buhot de Kersers, of excavations which were at that time being conducted in the neighbourhood of Les Aix d'Angillon. M. de Kersers, who was also a 'membre non résident du Comité des Travaux Historiques et Scientifiques', reporting a number of objects unearthed by a Monsieur Soubret, continues:

 

          '... Le même agent a acquis au village des

          Pelées, commune de Morogues, un assez curieux

          produit de la fabrication de La Borne: c'est

          une énorme jarre de Cm.80 d'ouverture, décorée

          de lignes de terre, façonnées au doigt et

          rapportées sur le dehors de facon à produire

          une ornementation barbare d'une certaine

          richesse.  L'auteur de ce chef-d'oeuvre en

          dut être tres fier, car il crut devoir le

          signer et associer à sa gloire celui qui en

          opera le cuisson.  En effet on lit à l'interieur

          le graffite suivant, "Fait par Guillaume Girault,

          quit par Jacques Talbot ce vingt-cinq juillet

          1775".  Les caractères sont des lettres inclinées

          de le fin du XV111e siècle.  La couverte repandue

          sur l'inscription et la puissance du feu ont fait

          disparaître certaines delies.  Le nom de Talbot

          est connu parmi les potiers de La Borne ...' (32)

 

      The final sentence of de Kersers reference is revealing, since it appears that he felt it necessary to alert his readers to the fact that members of the Talbot family were living in La Borne, and this despite the fact that the Museum of Bourges had already acquired a few significant pieces either signed by Jacques-Sébastien Talbot, or eventually attributed to him.  Little appears to have changed in the twenty years since de Laugardière's 'Document inédit.'  There is nothing to suggest  that any effort was made, either during these years or during the remaining years of the nineteenth century, to establish links between local amateurs and the potters themselves with a view to assessing those technical and stylistic characteristics that would have assisted in identifying the author of any individual piece.  At the time of publication of de Laugardière's article, Marie Talbot was just recently deceased, having died sometime in the eighteen-sixties, the precise date is uncertain.  Her half-brother Jean was still alive and Marie-Louise was a young woman in her early twenties, the same age as that of Jean Talbot, dit Cavaignac.  It can only be assumed that some such personal contact with the Talbot family would have established, with some historical accuracy, the development of the 'poterie de fantaisie' of the village yet, as will be shown, over the next half-century a number of pieces were to enter the museum's collection without any attempt to organize accompanying research and documentation.

      The 'Journal du Cher' of 2l August l869, in an entry entitled 'Objets Nouvellement Entrés au Musée, provided its readership with the following description of one piece:

 

          '... Arrosoir en terre cuite, de forme primitive,

          dont l'usage existait encore à la fin du siècle

          dernier, d'après une inscription gravée sur la

          vase, portant la date l777, le nom du fabricant

          Cholet, et le nom du propriétaire M. le Curé

          de Coigny, près Saint-Amand (Cher).  Donné par

          M. Hippolyte Boyer ...' (33)

 

      The donation, the first entry of such ware into the collection of the Museum of Bourges, coincided with the publication of both de Caumont's and Charles de Laugardière's references to the pottery of the region, and Boyer's action in making the presentation may have been motivated by the interest so engendered by these authors.  Unfortunately, there is no further documentation to indicate the classification accorded to the piece by the museum authorities, whether it was merely perceived as a functional object or as possessing any aesthetic value.  The former is more likely to have been the case as a further examination of both the de Caumont and de Laugardière's material will reveal.  Though expressing satisfaction with de Caumont's completed entry and Boyer's project, Charles de Laugardière had used the occasion of the presentation of the Panariou-Sionnest document to question the rigour of national research on ceramics.  The main object of his attack was centered on the third edition of an extensive 'Guide de l'amateur de faïences et porcelaines, poteries, terres cuites etc.' which had been published in Paris in l867. (34)  It's author Auguste Demmin, had compiled an alphabetical list of French localities where those aspects of ceramics noted in his title were then being produced.  These, he expressly stated, were 'fabriques qui ne pouvaient pas être mentionnés parmi les anciennes.' (35)  Amongst others recorded by Demmin as being in the Department du Cher were Neuvy-deux-Clochers, and La Borne where he had found eight 'fabricants de poteries, qui tous exercent leur industrie.' (36)  Dismissing Demmin's publication as 'loin de remplir les promesses de sa première ligne' (37), de Laugardière continues:

 

          '... Ce prétendu guide n'est bon qu'à devoyer

          ceux qui s'en rapporteraient à lui avec trop

          de confiance; compilé san soin, san savoir,

          methode ni critique - je parle surtout de ce

          qui concerne la France - je l'ai toujours

          trouvé en faute grave sur tous les points

          particulier que j'ai pu verifier ...' (38)

 

      de Laugardière's desire for historical accuracy found 'grave fault', not only with the omission of the still operating 'poteries d'Achères' - 'qui était en activité dès le Xllle. siècle' (39) - but more importantly with Demmin's inaccurate classification of other ancient, but still active, centres such as Neuvy-deux-Clochers and La Borne.  The former, he could show, quoting the Panariou-Sionnest contract, had already been in full operation before l657:

 

          '... date déjà respectable et nullement

          contemporaine; la fabrication de la poterie,

          vulgaire à la verite, était en pleine

          activité ... et que ses produits venaient

          chercher des débouches jusqu'à Nevers ...' (40)

 

Assessing the contract's value as a primary source, de Laugardière is at pains to caution his audience to avoid reading into it consequences that it did not clarify.  For example, noting that it could be taken to furnish information 'au point du vue commerciale de nos contrées' (4l), it contained nothing to reveal 'la trace de l'oeuvre artistique dans l'énumération des pots de toutes dimensions et de toute usages.' (42)  Included in this latter the contract had listed 'un cent d'ancrière grande et petite', (44) and it is these items which gives de Laugardière the opportunity to introduce a discussion of the contemporary work of La Borne.  His main passage devoted to the village deserves close examination:

 

          '... Quant aux poteries de La Borne, émanant

          d'un centre de fabrication industrielle et

          populairement artistique, dont l'établissement

          est, j'ai lieu de l'affirmer, antérieur à la

          fondation d'Henrichemont par Sully, j'en

          conais des spécimens datés du siècle dernier,

          et qui déjà suffiraient pour permettre de

          mentionner parmi les anciennes les modestes

          fabriques d'où elles sortent ...' (43)

 

      The latter part of the passage is sufficient, in de Laugardière's opinion, to refute Demmin's claim, but in claiming that La Borne was in operation as a pottery centre prior to Sully's purchase of Boisbelle in l605 he was relying more on tradition than on sound historical fact.  Of particular interest is the fact that he identifies the village both as an industrial centre as well as a location where works of some artistic merit are produced.  In the context of his succeeding remarks, one must ask the question as to whether the author was in some way being responsive to the climate in which popular art, particularly the Image d'Epinal, had started to exert an influence on many leading artists of the period.  If such is the case, his choice of language, when adverting to La Borne ware, leaves no doubt as to his evaluation of their artistic merit:

 

          '... me restreignant à dire que si un art

          enfantin et rustique avait quelque part à

          ses productions, ce devait être seulement

          dans les ancrières grandes et petites, ornées

          peut-être de dessins primitifs ou des figures

          d'animaux et de personnages comme certains

          encriers qui se font encore à La Borne ...' (44)

 

 

      One finds similar value-laden terminology in the text of de Caumont who, although he had revealed a sensitivity to the wayside crosses lost in the foliage of the shady lanes of the Sancerrois (45), uses language which betrays an evaluation of the ware that is less than complimentary.

 

          '... La Borne, comme beaucoup d'autres

          fabriques disparues, a inondé le marché de

          jouets d'enfants, elle a couronné les

          édifices situés dans son rayon de faîtieres

          à plusieurs étages; elle a fabriqué des

          bustes des grandes dimensions; enfin elle a

          fait sa specialité de pichets representant

          des ecclésiastiques coiffés d'un tricorne à

          usage de goulot ...' (46)

 

      Continuing, 'Nous n'avons pas l'intention de combler ces desiderata de l'art de terre' his description of some of the characteristics of the crosses are likewise revealing:

 

          '... Le calvaire du carrefour se compose

          ordinairement d'une croix assez lourde comme

          forme et comme décor, surmontée d'un coq, et

          dont les bras sont terminés par des boules ou

          des fleurs de lis.  Le Christ, modelé d'une

          façon barbare, est représenté nu avec un

          rudiment du ceinture ...' (47)

 

      Whether the views revealed by Caumont and de Laugardière represented personal assessments of the artistic merit of the 'poterie de fantaisie' of La Borne, or whether they reflected the climate of their time, is difficult to assess with precision.  One has to await the publication of Hippolyte Boyer's 'Histoire de la Principauté Souveraine de Boisbelle - Henrichemont' to find a more balanced appraisal of the products of the village.  Acknowledging, like his colleagues, that the design of the pieces leaves something to be desired, and that the modelling of the forms is poor, he concluded:

 

          '... le vrai mérite de ces creations est

          dans leur originalité.  L'oeuvre peut être

          grossière, elle a pour elle qu'elle ne

          procéde pas d'une imitation banale.

          L'artiste reproduit ordinairement ce qu'il

          voit et ne traite que des sujets qui lui

          soient familiers mais, dans ce cercle étroit,

          et malgré l'insuffisance de ses ressources,

          il atteint parfois des résultats remarquables

          de verité et de franchise ...' (48)

 

      One cannot now hazard a guess as to when Boyer formulated these opinions, whether early in his compilation of material for his history of Boisbelle or whether he came to such conclusions towards the end of his life.  Suffice to say that he here had identified one of the major concerns of later historians of 'l'art populaire', that is, whether popular art was a collective one, in which forms, styles and decoration were repeated unquestioningly by succeeding generations.  Later research was to confirm Boyer's opinion:

 

          '... L'art populaire de La Borne ne fut

          jamais fixé dans des formes statiques.  Si

          à chaque époque de son histoire, on peut

          isoler un certain nombre d'oeuvres individuelles,

          il est egalement possible de saisir de l'une à

          l'autre une évolution ...' (49)

 

      By l925 the Musée du Berry possessed sixteen pieces of La Borne ware.  Five years earlier, a wider interest in the village had been further awakened when the 'Association des Anciens Elèves de l'Ecole Nationale des Arts Appliqués' had mounted an exhibition of ceramics, restricted to the province of Berry, in the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Bourges.  The period is significant, since it coincided with the appointment of a new director, Eduoard Duneufgermain, to the 'Beaux Arts', as the school of art was familiarly called.  A graduate of the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, where Cormon had been his tutor, he had taught in Antibes before being appointed to the Lycée des Garçons in Bourges, in l9l2:

 

          '... Homme d'action, d'une rare puissance de

          travail, il exerce une influence considérable

          sur la renaissance de l'art appliqué dans la

          région berrichonne ...' (50)

 

     The 'Beaux Arts' occupied a unique position in France, since by a ministerial decree of l4 September l898 (5l), seven years after its foundation, it had been designated the only school of applied art in the nation.  Since its inception, successive directors had aimed to produce 'des ouvriers complets, c'est-à-dire connaissant leur profession sous toutes ses faces, capables de concevoir et de réaliser, par eux-mêmes, avec la matière informe, l'objet utile ou agréable qui leur est proposé, en opposition avec le manoeuvre specialisé exécutant les mêmes gestes, pour accomplir la part de travail qui lui incombe, sans penser au résultat final'. (52)  Following his appointment in l92l, Duneufgermain's wide experience in the fine and decorative arts made him eminently suitable for the post of director.  Though primarily a painter, he was also a wood-engraver and had exhibited successfully with La Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts at the Grand Palais, in Paris.  He was also a permanent member of the Salon d'Automne and, in l924, he was elected president of the 'Comité Régional des Arts Appliqués.' (53)  In this latter field, 'c'est enfin un décorateur de premier ordre pour le métal et le bois.' (54)  Prior to taking up his appointment, he had established a sound relationship with the potters of La Borne, introducing others to their work and using both them and their village as subjects for his own artistic endeavours.

 

      In l926, he was simultaneously fulfilling a more public duty, this time as 'commissaire général' for the modern section of the 'Exposition de Céramique et de Vererrie Ancienne et Moderne' which, to highlight the two principal and most flourishing industries in Berry, the committee of the seventeenth annual Foire-Exposition de Bourges, had taken the initiative to organize. (55)  Following on the success of the Exposition Universelle des Arts Décoratifs of the previous year, the exhibition was significant in that there were assembled for the first time in Bourges valuable examples of historically important ceramics and glass, as well as a range of comtemporary ceramics by many of those whose work had been acclaimed in Paris.

 

      Wares from La Borne were included in the retrospective section which, organized by Henry Ponroy, the curator of the Musée du Berry, had as its aim 'de donner seulement une idée des riches objets d'art anciens que la ville recele.' (56)  The exhibition was not accompanied by an itemised, and descriptive, catalogue, thus there is no indication as to whether the works on view were part of the current production or, which is more likely, either pieces from the collection of the Musée du Berry or those of the small number of local enthusiasts.  One can only speculate as to why these were included, but it is tempting to think that the interest of Eduoard Duneufgermain may have persuaded Henry Ponroy to bring them to the attention of the wider public, for the first time, and in a most prestigious context.  Be that as it may, Ponroy's rather brief catalogue notes serve as unwitting testimony to his evaluation of their artistic merit.  Holding the opinion that lengthy descriptive details would not be referred to during a visit to the exhibition, he restricted himself to listing in broad subdivisions, the various categories into which the exhibits were divided.  For the convenience of the visitor, he restricted his catalogue information as follows:

 

          '... Nous nous bornerons donc à indiquer le

          genre, le lieu d'origine, et l'époque

          apporoximative de fabrications, de la plupart

          des pièces exposées, par des étiquettes

          d'identification ...' (57)

 

      Included were examples of Gallo-Roman pottery, most of which had been unearthed during excavations in Bourges, as well as large containers, vases, jars and pitchers dating from the middle Ages.  Porcelain was represented by wares from China and Japan, as well as major French establishments such as those at Sèvres, Sceaux and Chantilly.  In his catalogue notes, the above evinced little comment from M. Ponroy, but he did reserve particular attention for the faïence of Delft and Nevers which were included in a comprehensive list of French centres that featured Limoges, Strasbourg and Rouen.  As for the Delft ware, Ponroy is almost ecstatic, 'Des vases, plats et assiettes de Delft dont les riches pièces atteignent de nos jours des prix fantastiques.'

      Much more fulsome in his adulation of nearby Nevers, 'les belles pièces si artistiques et décoratives sont fort appreciés.'

 

      By contrast, his brief dismissal of the pottery of La Borne is telling:

 

          '... Quelques specimens des produits de La Borne

          (commune d'Henrichemont) qui ne sont pas à vrai

          dire très artistique, mais qui ont leur caractère

          particulier et local ...' (58)

 

     As to the reception, if any, accorded to the La Borne ware, we are not enlightened by the press of the period which omits any reference to the work of the village in its reports of the event.  Rather the journalists' accounts merely echo the preferences of Henry Ponroy:

 

          '... C'est avec une satisfaction visible

          que M. Ponroy touchait et se penchait vers

          ces vieux 'Nevers', ces vieux 'Delft', ces

          émaux de Limoges et les expliquait ...' (59)

 

      The section of the exhibition devoted to 'Céramique et Verrerie Moderne', arranged by students from the 'Beaux-Arts' under the direction of Eduoard Duneufgermain must be seen in the heady atmosphere still remaining after the events in Paris the previous year.  The region had always prided itself in its own ceramic production but, as Duneufgermain explained in the catalogue notes:

 

          '... l'Exposition Internationale de l925

          vient d'avoir lieu et les arts de la terre

          y ont particulierement brillé; succès qui ne

          devait pas étonner ceux qui suivent l'evolution

          de l'art moderne ...'(60)

 

      His desire to participate in a wider diffusion of such success is evident:

 

          '... Faire connaître dans le Berry quelques

          - unes de ces merveilles, bibelots de luxe ou

          objets d'usage, tel a été notre but: aussi

          après avoir invité nos artisans regionaux,

          c'est aux exposants de la Classe Xl, formant,

          une selection variée, que nous avons fait

          appel ...' (6l)

 

      Classe Xl had been that devoted to 'Art et Industrie de la Céramique' (62), and its president, Georges Rouard, the founder of the Galerie Rouard in Paris, was a participant with a selection of table services, procelain, faïence, crystal and a collection of works by contemporary French ceramic artists.  Included were pieces by such personalities as Lenoble, Jean Mayodon and Henri Simmen.  Regional interest in independent artist-potters was given a local flavour by the display of the work of Louis Lourioux while, from Saint-Amand-en-Puisaye, two of the most important inheritors of the aesthetic of Jean-Joseph Carriès, Eugène Lion and Leon Pointu, were represented by their grès.

 

      In his catalogue notes, Duneufgermain recalled that the 'Gens de la vieille France', for festive occasions, had not relied exclusively on the quality of the cuisine, but also favoured 'le décor d'une table bien servie.'  It was with this in mind that he expressed his aim of drawing local attention to the most recent achievements of ceramic production:

 

 

          '... Il faut que le public connaisse cette

          céramique d'usage, qu'il sache que son prix

          de vente est abordable.  Et si nous avons

          reussi … faire apprécier cette belle céramique

          française, ses nouveautés toujours originales,

          … la faire pénétrer peut-être dans de

          nombreuses demeures pour les transformer, y

          ajouter une note agréable, pimpante, d'élégance

          et de fantaisie, notre effort n'aura pas été

          inutile ...' (63)

 

      Augmenting the faïence, porcelain and grès flammés of the regional factories was a section devoted to the products of the Manufacture Nationale de Sèvres, 'une collection de toute beauté, dont la mise en place a été surveiller par M. Le Chevallier-Chevignard, administrateur de la Manufacture.' (64)

 

      The most select premises in Bourges for the purchase of such products was the Maison Guillaume which had, since its foundation in l9l0, always provided the public with glass and ceramics of the highest quality.  It is not surprising, therefore, that the Guillaume enterprise played a significant role in what otherwise was an event organised by the civic authorities, accepting responsibility for the organisation and display of samples of major regional and national glass and ceramics producers for whom it was agent.  Tables for the display of glass from Daum Frères of Nancy and that of Thouvenin et Cie, Vierzon-Forges, were arranged by the Guillaume concern, as were the exhibits of ceramics from A. Balleroy Frères and A. Lanternier et Cie, both of Limoges, the Faïencerie de Gien and the Faïencerie d'Art, Montières, at Amiens. (65)

 

      The Maison Guillaume also figures in the catalogue as agent for the grès of Eugène Lion, as well as that of a local potter whose work was on display, and who had been honoured with a medal at the Exposition Universelle in Paris, the mayor of Soye-en-Septaine, a small commune some five miles south of Bourges, the 'artisan-potier', as he preferred to term himself, Joseph Massé.

 

      The name Guillaume was to figure in the catalogue again, but this time in the capacity of an exhibitor.  François Guillaume was taking part in what would appear to be his first major exhibition and, in such a prestigious company, perhaps one of the most determining of his career.  His selection of grès included both functional ware and modelled sculpture - Le Mendiant, Vase, Cendriers, Coupes and Masques. (66)

 

      It is not by mere coincidence that Duneufgermain, Massé and François Guillaume were all participating in the Exposition de Céramique et Verrerie Ancienne et Moderne.  In the difficult inter-war years that were to witness the gradual decline of many of the traditional potteries in France, each, in his own way and for his own reasons, had already become interested in La Borne and the folk ceramics of the Talbot Dynasty.  Duneufgermain, in his role as director of the 'Beaux Arts' and with his interest in the applied arts, had laid the ground:

 

 

 

          '... Tandis que l'activité artisanale

          disparaît, les premières collections se

          constituent dans les années l920: l'une des

          plus importants est celle de François

          Guillaume, un marchand d'objets d'art de

          Bourges.  La relève s'amorce avec des

          peintres, Joseph de la Nézière, Joseph

          Massé, qui se font potiers comme Jean

          Carriès.  Mais c'est … François Guillaume

          que nous devons la vrai renaissance

          lorsqu'il décide sous l'Occupation de

          ressuciter la tradition imagière de La

          Borne ...' (67)