FRANCOIS GUILLAUME :
Background, Youth and Induction
into the World of Commerce
The Maison Guillaume which had serviced some section of the l926 exhibition in Palais Jacques Coeur had been established in Bourges at the end of the nineteenth century. Its founder, the Parisian born Emile Guillaume, had met and married Gabrielle Foucher after returning to Paris following a sojourn in England, where he had gone to gain commercial experience. Deciding to settle in Bourges, Emile and his wife acquired the premises of a family named Garban who, as Garbani, had immigrated from Italy almost one hundred years before: (l)
'... L'entreprise familiale a surgi d'un marchand
de couleurs à la parisienne. Guillaume père vend
toujours poteries et faïence mais cherche de plus
beaux produits et les trouve ...' (2)
It was here, in the city centre, that François Guillaume was born on 23 August, l90l. As a growing boy it would have been impossible to have been unaware of the artistic character of the historic city, dominated by the imposing mass and intricate façade of the medieval Cathédrale of Saint Etienne, an environment which was to become even more immediate and enriching when his father decided to move to newly-built premises in the rue des Arènes. An ancient street, it had skirted the walls of the original Gallo-Roman fortress from which many of the stones, 'pierres de cité' (3), had been taken to construct the magnificent edifices that had followed in the wake of the Sainte Chapelle, the grandiose palace of Jean, Duc de Berry. (4) Attracting to Bourges many artists from Flanders, including the Limbourg Brothers who illuminated his 'Book of Hours', the example of Jean de Berry was followed by those who, in a period of great material prosperity, accumulated substantial fortunes and erected imposing 'hôtels' which figure amongst the most beautiful monuments of the Middle Ages. (5)
Directly across the street front the Maison Guillaume stood the Palais de Justice 'ancien Grand Séminaire; autrefois, couvent des Urselines'. (6) Beside it stood the Hôtel Cujas, built at the end of the fifteenth century for Durand Salvi, a Florentine merchant, and which by the end of the nineteenth century, housed the Musée du Berry:
'... Les salles du rez-de-chaussée du Musée du
Berry abritent aujourd'hui les richesses de
l'époque celte, gauloise et gallo-romaine,
recueillies dans la province ... Au premier
étage, des expositions de costumes et des
produits de l'industrie et de coutumes de
notre province sont en droit d'attirer les
visites de ceux qui s'intéressent au folklore
du Berry ...' (7)
Some short distance away stood the Medieval birth-place of Jacques Coeur, while, from the rear windows of the living accommodation above the shop, the Guillaume family could almost touch the walls of the unique palace which the wealthy argentier of Charles Vll had built at the height of his success and influence, the Palais Jacques Cœur, 'un des monuments les plus remarquables et les plus somptueux de l'architecture civile du XVe. siècle; il fit l'admiration de ses contemporains.' (8)
By l9l0, the Maison Guillaume was firmly established as the most prominent supplier of quality faïence, porcelain and glassware in the immediate region (Fig. 79) and it was in such a ambience that François Guillaume reached his teens:
'... Bien sur, telle qu' Emile Guillaume, son
père, l'avait imaginée, l'entreprise se veut
ouverte à toute la céramique française. Au
delà même, c'est l'industrieuse production
pour la table gourmande: cristal, orfèvrerie,
coutelleries, objets d'Art qui suscite et nourrit
l'appétit du jeune commerçant des années 20 ...' (9)
Both François and his older brother, Paul, attended the School of Sainte Marie de Bourges, founded by Jeanne de Valois, daughter of Louis Xl, and Queen of France. (l0) Following the successful completion of his Baccalaureat I, he transferred to the Lycée de Bourges where, specialising in classical studies, philosophy, and two modern languages, English and German, he sat for, and gained his Baccalaureat II. Through contact with American soldiers who maintained the Military Hospital in Bourges at the end of World War I, he improved his command of English and was sent by his parents to England where, in Southampton, he was formally initiated into the world of commerce. (ll) Returning home, he worked for a short time in the Banque Hervet in Bourges, before entering full-time into the family concern.
It still remained the age when modern materials and innovations had not entirely replaced many traditional ceramic products, and Emile Guillaume continued the sale of locally produced wares to his clientele, stocking, in addition to faïence and porcelain from nearby Vierzon, Foëcy and Mehun-sur-Yèvre, the pottery products from the Maison Renault at Argent-Sur-Sauldre as well as the utilitarian wares from regions such as Saint-Amand-en-Puisaye and La Borne. As part of their duties, François Guillaume and his brother were given the role of visiting these local concerns, to select and purchase stock for the shops:
'... Ils battent la campagne dans leur mémorable
Bugatti, auprès des hôteliers et revendeurs de
village. Ce faisant ils découvrent le Berry,
les vieilles pierres, les églises et tous les
produits de l'artisanat qui persiste ...' (l2)
It was thus, on such comprehensive journeys, that he familiarised himself with the history and lore of his region, and more particularly, developed a growing relationship with the many noted porcelain manufacturers and traditional potters whom he met and befriended, immersing himself in their activity, and continuously augmenting his knowledge of the materials and procedures that were used to fabricate the articles sold in the rue des Arènes.
François Guillaume: The evolution of his artistic interests
'... j'ajoute à part moi que sa manière à
lui c'est l'Art: il y croit, il le pense
possible ...' (l3)
It was during these first years of service in his father's business that his distinctive artistic talents began to flourish. He had earlier aspired to a career in the visual arts, hoping to be able to go to Paris and study, but this possibility had been denied to him since his father was still on army service, assisting the local Doctor Temoin in caring for wounded soldiers in the military hospital in Bourges. (l4) Nonetheless, by l92l there was to be early evidence of what was to become a life-long and enduring passion:
'... Sans avoir acquis aucun métier manuel il
aime les matières, le toucher, le contact des
objets aussi bien que des gens. Son goût pour
l'authentique est constant, qui marquera tous
Et comme il est adroit, les portes sont ouvertes
pour d'utiles expériences manuelles: modelage,
fer forgé, bois sculpté lui sont des tests ...' (l5)
Before the first social laws were enacted in l935, guaranteeing annual holidays for all employees, Guillaume's experiences of travel were confined to his professional expeditions throughout Berry:
'... Si l'Artisan n'est plus tout à fait roi
en ces années 20, il reste le prince. Les
Porcelainières ne sont que des manufactures:
tours et fours y sont rudimentaires. Les
verreries soufflent encore à la bouche. Les
Potiers tournent toujours au bâton. On monte
meubles et charpentes comme jadis, à la main:
les machines à bois sont puissantes déjà mais
façons, finition et montage sont demeurés
manuals ...' (l6)
It was thus that a new and limitless vista opened before him, one that could be understood, retained and recorded as he actively nourished an insatiable cultural need. Illustrated guides, brochures and postcards comprised his first 'collection', extending and multiplying throughout his life to constitute an extensive library which would embrace the art and culture of his region, his nation and the world. It was likewise at this time that his instinct to collect and preserve those objects which claimed his interest began to manifest itself; shards and small pots from the Gallo-Roman period retrieved from the Loire; ceramics, particularly archeological samples found in Bourges at a time when new buildings were being erected in the old city (l7); porcelain plates and cups; and glass, 'some beautiful pieces (but all of a small size and moderate value). These were all sold after his death.' (l8) Mostly they were not antique, and appear to have corresponded to the period when the glass blower was being replaced by the machine-made product. (l9) His expertise in these areas was such that later he was called upon to address the Société des Antiquaires du Centre, which he joined in l930 (20) and the Fédération des Sociétés Savantes du Centre de la France. (2l) During and after World War II, François Guillaume and his wife, Elisabeth, continued collecting. Increased prosperity after the conflict provided opportunities to buy things that they eventually kept:
'... This 'eventually' is important: they always
enjoyed to have new, beautiful things in their
house ... to test them ... modern or not ... for
one day, week or month ...' (22)
Part of Guillaume's philosophy was determined by commercial needs, many of the pieces remaining in his home for a few years before disappearing through the shop, 'at a moment when one special customer needed one special piece: during the war, part of my parent's attention was to keep the shop well assorted. And his culture in all arts helped him to test bronze, coins, paintings, oriental porcelain of course. They kept very few bronzes, no coins, some paintings, two or three porcelains.' (23)
It is only against this cultural backdrop that François Guillaume, as an artist, and François Guillaume, as a man of commerce, can be explained:
'... You write it, and write it right "both as
an Artiste and as a man of commerce."
I am tempted to use 3 words and not only 2.
ESTHETE: loves, likes, appreciates, understands.
MECENE: helps, teaches, explains, proposes.
PROMOTEUR: Editions, Atelier de La Borne, Jean
Chièze, Expositions ...' (24)
The characteristics so enumerated are apt, seeing that they apply to a personality one of whose driving impulses was to share his talents and interests with others:
'... Il ne brigne pas les honneurs. Mais par
sens civique, il milite partout ou s'harmonisent
les efforts en commun. Il a l'esprit syndical,
prêt aux actions concertées: ventes promotionnelles,
groupement d`Achats, Campagnes d'Escompte
entraide commerciale le trouvent disponible.
A travers l'artisan qu'il affectionne, il miserait
volontiers sur l'esprit Corporatif dont il a une
Aussi bien, dans les premières heures de Vichy, a
t-il comme Chièze et bien d'autres une oreille
favorable aux tentatives de réorganisation socio-
professionnelles. Il s'intéresse à l'enseignement
Technique qui vient d'acquérir droit de cite ...' (25)
In addition to his membership of the local learned and historical societies, he was soon elected to serve on the Commission du Musée du Berry, became a member of the Chambre de Commerce de Bourges, chaired, for several years, le Tribunal Consulaire and, for a decade, la Caisse d'Epargne' 'qu'il modernise dans la magnifique Hôtel Pellevoysin.' (26) As a man of firm religious convictions, he was called to dioscesan service when, following World War II, the 'Art Sacré' movement was, once more, able to take root in France, a service of dedication which is vivid in the memory of Monsignor A. Girard, the vicar-general of the archbishopric of Bourges:
'... J'ai connu tes parents, jeunes mariés dès mon
arrivée à Notre-Dame en août l927. Ils m'honoraient
de leur confiance. Il y aura bientôt 60 ans de cela...
Ton père a été parmi les premières membres de la
Commission d'Art Sacré, dès sa fondation en l946. Il
y est resté jusqu'en l969...' (27)
In the context of a life so full, and during which he saw his business expanding to employ a staff of thirty-five, it would be easy to perceive his interest in the village of La Borne as only occupying a minor place, but the intensity with which he lived it, the place it shared in his being, was the main fabric of the half-century that was to be allocated to him following his first essays with its clay. Many of those who shared this life have argued that he ought to have been an artist; but artist he was, his own active participation in creation providing the warp which supported a weft composed of many equally significant activities. His own creative endeavours, culminating in collaborative ventures with the production of 'éditions', particularly in glass, porcelain and faïence, had commenced as a personal fulfilment of an earlier desire. His experiences with the clay of Berry, notably that of La Borne, appear to have provided a key to unlocking, most likely unknowingly at the time, the door that would open to a new future for the village.
François Guillaume: his earliest artistic endeavours
Of all the materials to which he felt drawn, it was those of the 'arts du feu' which marked his preference. (28) His earliest pieces are masks, in clay and dated l92l, and until the late twenties he produced a number of these, in addition to some heads.
The masks are almost life-size and, except for one in which the features and expression are exaggerated, all are realistic and competently modelled. The titles of two are known 'La Dernière Sourire, and 'Bonne Histoire', (Fig. 80) and the characterisation achieved in these suggests that it was the observation and communication of such similar 'states of being' that provided themes for the whole series. That many may have been likenesses of friends and acquaintances of the family is suggested by one, executed in l927, and believed to be a portrait of the Marquis de Meloizes, (Fig. 8l) a member of local learned societies and a regular visitor to the shop. (29)
Of the heads that remain, one is a miniature of a small child that was made as a mascot for the family car. (Fig. 82) Two others are of children, one being an unfired portrait of his eldest son, Pierre-Charles, (Fig. 83) who was born in l927, the second a small glazed head of a niece. (Fig. 84) His most ambitious project in this genre was a life-sized head, executed in l925. (Fig. 85) Characterisation in this piece is of a high quality and, like all the others in the series, denotes acute observation, an understanding of the structure of the human head, a proficient technical ability and, above all, a sensitivity to the human personality.
Two thrown pots remain in rue des Arènes, one, a tall pot signed 'F. Guillaume l925, and a small one with decisive throwing rings, dated l937. The small modelled figure, 'Le Mendiant', (Fig. 86) which was exhibited in the Palais Jacques Coeur in l926, completes the collection.
It is now impossible to state with precision where each piece was made and fired, although there are family recollections to suggest that he used the friendships he had made at both La Borne and Saint-Amand-en-Puisaye and the facilities available at both centres. One other possibility exists, namely that of Joseph Massé, for whom the Maison Guillaume was agent. The form of the tall thrown piece is reminiscent of some of those produced by the 'artisan-potier', and the character of the glazing suggests that it might have been made and fired at Soye.
There is concrete evidence that Guillaume produced some, at least, of his pieces in the Lion pottery in Saint Amand. His son, Pierre Charles, has stressed the relationship that his father had established with Père (Eugène) Lion who, as a young man, had worked alongside Jean Carriès, in the atelier of his father. (30)
By June l926, the Maison Guillaume was already acting as agent for Eugène Lion's unique pieces, which he made in the family pottery. On the road from Cosne to Saint Amand, the property still retained many tangible links with 'l'école de Carriès.' Following the death of Paul Jeanneney in l920, Eugène had acquired two large ceramic chimera, copies of gargoyles of Notre Dame de Paris, at the sale of the artist's work. (3l) These, installed on brick pillars on either side of the main entrance, (Fig. 87) were infused with that touch of the grotesque that had been a characteristic of some aspects of the work of his master. Jeanneney had had the distinction of reproducing some of the sculptures of Rodin, (32) notably one of the heads from 'Les Bourgeois de Calais', which had been exhibited in St. Louis in l904 along with the head of Balzac. The fully-modelled head by Guillaume has similar quality in its finish, with poured glazes of muted tones, supplementing the vigour of the character.
Pierre-Charles Guillaume was adamant that this contact with Eugène Lion was something other than a passing fancy, ' parce que, il a essayé avec le Père Lion les formules de Carriès.` (33) Furthermore, he recalled how, in a photographic cabinet which had belonged to his grandfather, there had been stored 'petits sacs en papier et petits flacons. Sur l'étiquette, pas l'écriture de mon père, l'écriture d'un professeur'. (34) Intrigued, as a boy, by these strange commodities, he was forbidden to touch them, his father often cautioning, 'Les Emaux de Carriès.' (35)
The inclusion of Arsène Alexandre's study of Carriès in Guillaume's library is a further suggestion of an abiding interest in the sculptor who was to transform ceramics in Berry and the nation in the early years of the century. But earlier evidence of Guillaume's interest is contained in a little green notebook in which, in a young man's hand, he had copied the recipes of the glazes which had been published by Auclair. Whether used exclusively at Saint Amand or in La Borne in this initial period of work in the nineteen-twenties, they appear to have been the basis for the glazes used on most of his work at this time. (36)
Pierre-Charles Guillaume had recollections of seeing a head in their home in rue des Arènes, one which cannot be attributed to Guillaume himself, but which does provide a further, and romantic, link with Saint Amand-en-Puisaye, Paul Jeanneney and the sculptor, Rodin. It was from Eugène Lion that he either bought, or was given it. Though made in Lion's atelier, 'Rodin, qui passait par là parce qu'il s'intéressait, a retouché la pièce.' (37) Eugène had then fired it, in a dark black 'tenmoku' style glaze.
Notwithstanding the changes which were taking place in France in the years following World War I, it was to be almost three decades later that the Maison Guillaume no longer found it commercially viable to stock the utilitarian ware of La Borne. From his entry into the business, François Guillaume had come to know the village, its potters, their processes and wares. Other than Alphonse Talbot and Joseph Talbot, the one personality with whom he established a firm relationship was Armand Bedu and, given the latter's knowledge and expertise, it was understandable that a young man with such artistic interests would be attracted by the researches Bedu was then pursuing. For the purposes of firing his finished pieces, the proximity of La Borne to Bourges, in contrast with Saint Amand-en-Puisaye, would have made it a more convenient location, and one of the first presents he gave to his future wife, Elisabeth Laplanche, before their marriage in January l926, was a small 'coupe', ' faite à La Borne, cuite à La Borne.' (38) Given that this particular piece would have been made during the first half of the nineteen twenties, and l927 being cited by Raymond Bedu as the year in which his father, Armand, achieved his successes with his glaze trials, it is more than likely that Guillaume was relying on the Carriès glazes for those pieces that he had fired in Bedu's kiln at La Borne. Here inthe workshop his interest in the history of the village was to be nurtured, and during the succeeding decade, as he pursued his other commercial and artistic activities in diverse fields, he was a witness to the slow decline of the traditional potteries. It was also during these years that he resolved to record and make known its past, and to embark on a policy which might prolong its productive life.
La Cocotte: L'Atelier d'Art and the first Guillaume Editions: l927-l934
In l929, François and his wife bought the Maison Guillaume from his father, but already in mid-decade there had been signs that he had started to assert his individualism, and to exert a formative influence on the concern:
'... l'entreprise Guillaume qu'il va bientôt
diriger seul a plusieurs voies possibles:
ou bien, monter les marches comme le père
avait commencé de le faire ... ou bien, à la
façon de fils, continuer de s'étendre en surface,
sans pour autant qu'il soit question d'articles
Pourtant, François Guillaume ne peut choisir,
Il doit par besoin garder les deux ...' (39)
In l926, the ceramics of the 'Compagnie des Arts Français' were introduced. Directed by Louis Süe and André Mare, whose designs had been awarded four major prizes in Paris the previous year, the choice of such contemporary works was to become a mark of the man for the rest of his career, ' tout ce qui porte son nom sera spécifiques, exclusif, conçu pour lui et s'il le peut, par lui.' (40) It was this latter activity, the promotion of products conceived and designed by himself, which was also to be a distinguishing characteristic of Guillaume and which, by early l926, had already borne its first fruit. Some of these, the small cendriers reproduced by the local manufacturers, Denert and Balichon, had been exhibited in the Palais Jacques Coeur, but it was not until early l927 that he decided to ally his own artistic abilities and promotional skills with those of others, and to establish an 'Atelier d'Art.' As the first venture of its kind in the province, (4l) this decision to edit lines of his own was a break with the standard practice in his profession. There, the exercise of choice is more often limited to obtaining rights to market all or part of an exclusive production, or a specific quantity of it, possibly for an agreed period, 'but very few buyers in our profession do really bother about really proposing a definite design and model !.' (42)
Lacking substantive evidence, one can only speculate as to what might have been the formative forces which were influencing his thinking at this time. The 'Exposition de Céramique et de Verrerie Ancienne et Moderne' of l9 June l926 had assembled in Bourges many of the most notable regional and national figures, each of whom participated so successfully in the 'Exposition des Arts Décoratifs et Industrielles Modernes' in l925, and it appears that he visited Paris to attend the exhibition, in the company of his mother. (43) In addition, the literature disseminated by the 'Chambre Syndical des Négociants en Porcelaines et Cristaux, Faïences et Verreries de France', the professional body to which the Maison Guillaume belonged, would have publicized the most important lessons to have been drawn from the event. In the context of his subsequent professional policy, François Guillaume appears to have absorbed the implications of three of these. Firstly, an increasing public interest in modern design prior to the l925 Exhibition had identified the new role that could be played by large stores in disseminating good design, and promoting furniture and decorative objects - 'as novelty and fashion.' (44) Following the success of the design department 'Primavera' at Printemps, other concerns established similar departments in quick succession, 'Pomone' at Bon Marché, 'La Maîtrise' at Galleries Lafayette and the 'Studium Louvre' at the Magasins du Louvre. (45) Their success in the promotion of a popular image of modern design was such that they were allocated a position of importance in l925 - the Galaries des Grands Magasins. Secondly, Maurice Dufrène, who directed La Maîtrise, had argued that it was appropriate in an age when social and egalitarian aims were in the forefront of political and economic thinking that the designer should seek 'artistic formulae which will be accessible to everyone and to create tasteful things for the people as well.' (46) Thirdly, following the exhibition, considerable changes took place in the contexts for, and appearance of, designers' work. Prior to l925, commissions had mostly been for wealthy clients, but the 'Arts Décos' had so successfully promoted modern design that commissions for design and furnishing started to come from a new range of sources: offices, bars, restaurants, cafes and hotels. (47) Edouard Duneufgermain had espoused this same doctrine in the catalogue for the exhibition in the Palais Jacques Coeur in l926. (48)
Possibly reflecting the spirit of the times as well as his own personal happiness, the 'Atelier d'Art' of the Maison Guillaume was named 'La Cocotte', and its products were marketed under a bright and optimistic logo. (Fig. 88) The first public initimation of his intentions appeared in an article entitled 'Les Vins de Nos Provinces' which was published, on 24 February l927, in 'l'Hôtellerie', a trades magazine for cafes, hotels and restaurants. (49) In it the author announced the forthcoming launching of a stemmed glass, specifically designed for the noted wine of the region, Sancerre. Collaborating with Guillaume in its conception and refinement was Edouard Duneufgermain, the production being confided to Les Verreries Thouvenin, of nearby Vierzon-Forges. Reminiscent of Joseph Hoffmann's 'Patrician' glass which had been such a success in Paris in l925, its main characteristics were described by Guillaume himself in a small advertising brochure he prepared for its public appearance at the 'Foire de Bourges':
'... Il est né sur un pied large, pour bien se
... Sur une jambe d'or pour plaire à l'oeil de
l'hôte de passage qui vient de "faire" de
kilomètres et que la poussière de la route a
mis en état de bien boire ...
... Sur une jambe d'or pour mettre en valeur
la limpidité caractéristique de Sancerre ...' (50)
Guillaume elected to name his product after the noted berrichon sculptor Jean Baffier who, beside his devotion to his art and his beloved province, had helped to organise, in Bourges in l9ll, the 'Congrès Régionaliste de la Fédération Régionaliste Française'. (5l) Such homage to his region was to remain a characteristic of all François Guillaume's future editions, each being taken as an occasion to either recall a notable berrichon personage or to extol the praises of an historic site or event.
The verre Baffier met with immediate approval, particularly in the columns of 'La Vie Berrichonne', a series of articles on regional affairs which were published regularly in 'La Dépêche du Berry'. The author, Raoul Toscan, wrote from his home in Nièvre, on 29 May l927, to inform Guillaume that he intended making specific reference to the innovation in his next article:
'... Je suis absolument partisan de cette mise
en valeur de nos industries de luxe parallèlement
à celle d'une production régionale ...' (52)
In June, an article entitled 'Variations sur le Verbe Boire' also appeared in 'La Dépêche du Berry.' Sub-titled 'Dis moi ce que tu bois et dans quoi tu le bois, je te dirai qui tu es', its author deplored the fact that, as opposed to the wines of Bordeaux, the Rhine and Champagne, for that of Sancerre, which had gratified the palates of Louis XVl and Napoléon, no one until then had the vision to design a glass commensurate with its qualities:
'... Ainsi, avec la matière ordinaire du verre,
peut-on enfermer dans une forme classique le
certitude d'une harmonie subtile ...' (53)
Raoul Toscan's 'La Vie Berrichonne', describing the regional production of, and renewed interest in, 'l'ouvrage bien faite', limited editions of faÜence from Nevers and quality book production, places the Verre Baffier in context:
'... A Bourges, une initiative de ce genre vient
de se produire ...
Violà en verite une très opportune contribution à
l'art régional et à la gloire d'un produit.
M. Guillaume a voulu que son modèle, tout en
étant abordable pour toutes les bourses, reste
d'un usage pratique et soit digne d'intérêt par
sa forme et sa couleur
... Creé et fabriqué par des Berrichons, à la
gloire des Vins de Berry, ce chef d'oeuvre d'art
usuel ravira toute la Province ...' (54)
Following the development of the initial model, Guillaume and Duneufgermain pursued the development of a range of other kindred glasses for water, sherry, liquers and champagne, and two carafes, for water and wine respectively, each of the latter being based on the inverted form of the original. (55) By the time the l928 promotional material of 'La Cocotte', the Tarif Confidentiel: Réservé aux Membres du Comptoirs d'Achats', was going to press, the fifty-two piece 'Service Baffier' was complete, occupying pride of place at the head of the other designs of the 'Atelier d'art' :
(i) Cendrier Masque No l
(ii) Dessous de Plat
(iii) Table à thé
(iv) Masque 'Méditation': A limited edition of fifteen in white, crackled faïence
(v) Masque Grès Craquelé No 7 - "Bonne Histoire" (Fig. 90)
The Guillaume Logo
With the Service Baffier successfully launched by 'La Cocotte' the house image was further updated by the development of a modern logo. French rationality and classicism infuse its Vitruvian structure, the form of the wine glass being incorporated within two equally geometric shapes, the circle and the octagon, evocative of the plates of Jean Luce at the l925 Exhibition in Paris, with the whole symbolising the glass and ceramic ware for which the Maison Guillaume was renowned. (Fig. 9l)
The First Ceramic Edition
It was appropriate that the second edition to be produced by 'La Cocotte' should have been in ceramics. By the end of l928 a limited edition of fifty heads was produced in porcelain, mostly in biscuit, but with a number finished in gold. Produced by the firm Pillivuyt of Mehun-sur-Yèvre, the 'l'Angelôt de Bourges (Fig. 92) was based on a late medieval head, part of a full figure, which had been fortuitously unearthed during the excavations of a site close to those of the Sainte-Chapelle and Saint Jean-le-Vieil. Having become the property of a local banking family, Hervet, permission to reproduce it had been given on the understanding that part of the profits would be given to the newly formed Aero Club du Berry. (56)
The introduction and augmentation of the Service Baffier was the first of a series that was to lead him to use more purposefully the services of some local artists, craftsmen and manufacturers, in the production of editions that encompassed other materials and processes. In addition to furniture for cafes and restaurants, (Fig. 93) and cutlery, his most successful and enduring endeavours in this domain were in the fields of glass and ceramics. Having built up his understanding of the materials and procedures, he himself participated actively in the conception and development of his themes and ideas. With designers, manufacturers and artisans he was at ease:
'... tout son effort dès lors se porte là où
le tracé fait défaut, là où le croquis vaut
mieux qu'un long discours ... Il s'explique,
crayon en main, suggère la forme, corrige sur
place et s'adapte au savoir rencontré, l'ancien
comme le nouveau ...' (57)
The Guillaume Glass Editions
Responding to the success of his first edition in glass, François Guillaume further developed this interest by patenting, on 27 November l928, a carafe and glasses for both water and the wines of other districts, Quincy and Pouilly. These were soon to be followed by two other models, those of the 'verre Etienne' and the 'verre Jean de Berry', (Fig. 94) the former being named after his second son who had been born in l930, whereas the latter, in different sizes, was designed to evoke the memory and refinement of the famous Duc de Berry. Though industrial production was beginning to supersede the craft skills, these had not yet fallen into disuse, and Guillaume had recourse to both:
'... On est encore au temps des verreries soufflées.
Les toutes premières machines n'ont d'ambition que
pour les formes basses des gobelets, des culots à
démoulage facile, mais les souffleurs berrichons
sont capables de traiter les modèles hôteliers,
complexes, distinctifs de chaque boisson, de
chaque region ...' (58)
The carafe Sinay (Fig. 95), patented in l934 was to remain in production up until the post World War II years, and for products such as this, he engaged in an analysis of all details such as the constraints of refilling and corking, (59) arriving at new forms which, though owing a debt to past custom and usage, displayed a rationality which took cognizance of new demands such as stocking and transportation.
The Guillaume Ceramic Editions
Following his tentatives with the ceramic cendriers, and the reception accorded to the 'Service Baffier' and 'L'Angelôt de Bourges', Guillaume further promoted 'La Cocotte' by furnishing personalised services for many bars, restaurants and cafes in the Berry region:
'... Parce que personnaliser un service de table
ne parait pas exclu aux hôtels. Ce qu'avaient
les familles aisées, ces assiettes, ces verreries
chiffrées, couronnées, violà ce que peut
accréditer la noblesse d'une bonne table ...' (60)
Determining the forms himself, for his decorative motifs he was fortunate to be able to call on the service of many engravers and draughtsmen, 'à Bourges il y a eu à cette époque un goût très precis du dessin, un goût pour la gravure.' (6l) Having initially enlisted the aid of such locals as the artist Marcel Bascoulard, it was not until l932, on encountering a new teacher of drawing at the Lycée de Bourges, that he was to enter on his most successful and durable professional relationships in this field. An engraver by training, Jean Chièze had arrived in Bourges for the academic year: 'Très vite ils se reconnaissent dans une commune application à faire un oeuvre d'art.' (62) Though Chièze had little contact with the Ecole des Beaux Arts, the intimate circle was widened to include the artisan-potier of Soye, Joseph Massé. Before leaving for Grenoble, where he obtained a teaching position after leaving Bourges, Chièze and Guillaume collaborated on their first joint venture. Consistent with Guillaume's policy of honouring his region, the product, a plate (Fig 96), exploited the symbolism on the 'armes parlantes' of Jacques Coeur: 'Rappelons que les coquilles, symboles des pelerins de Compostelle, evoquent Saint Jacques, patron de l'argentier et les coeurs, son patronyme.' (63) Though subsequently to move to the Lycée Thiers at Marseilles, in l937, where he was to spend one year before settling in Saint Cloud, on the outskirts of Paris, Chièze and Guillaume maintained a regular correspondence, always personal though mainly professional, and one which is eloquent in its testimony to that mutual respect which had flourished in Bourges in l932.
By 8 October l933, the engraver had executed twenty designs which he dispatched to Bourges:
'... 2 projets de décor pour Hôtel St. Honoré
3 projets de décor pour cendrier Vins de
3 projets de décor pour Grand Hôtel St.
2 projets Hôtel Croix Blanche a Montrichard
l projet Hôtel Cheval Noir
l projet Hôtel du Point du Jour
l projet Pierrot pour Hôtel du Croissant
En tout l3 projets
j'ajoute à cet envoi 3 projets LM et l projet
demandé dans votre dernière lettre DZ - j'ai
realisé ce dernier en ocre-dorée - plus précise
que l'or qui se passe mal ...' (64)
In addition, Chièze was continuing with his own work, advising Guillaume that he had started a portrait of Joseph Massé. The latter had sent Chièze a photograph of himself working at his recently acquired electric wheel, and the finished work was shown at the 'Exposition du Bois Gravé Lyonnais' in l933. (65) A second proof, which Chièze signed and dedicated to Massé, was to feature in the article on the potter of Soye in the journal Beaux-Arts in l934. (Fig. 97) It was this kind of productivity, before other circumstances brought an end to the editions in l946, which enabled Jean Chièze to furnish Guillaume with almost two hundred motifs, not only for ceramic commissions but also for posters, advertising materials, brochures, invitation cards and catalogues. (66)
l934: The first collaboration with Jean Lerat
It was inevitable that Guillaume would encounter this student of the 'Beaux Arts'. Jean Lerat had been born in the rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau in l9l3, the son and grandson of craftsmen. A student in the Beaux Arts since he was thirteen, he had studied drawing, painting and sculpture. For some time, Guillaume had sold Lerat's two-dimensional work in his shop, but in l934 he commissioned him to execute a series of small figures 'berrichons et berrichonnes', (Fig. 98) for reproduction in faïence. Very much in the style of those figurines which had been popularised by 'Art Déco', they were slip-cast and painted by hand in a local concern, the Maison Renault at Argent-sur-Sauldre, at which Guillaume had already commenced having some of his own individual designs produced in low-fired ware. This edition of Lerat and Guillaume was to remain the only one produced by the duo for some time since, shortly afterwards, Lerat was appointed to a teaching position in Saint Amand Montrond, in the south of the department, where he was to remain until the outbreak of World War II.
The Guillaume Exhibitions in rue des Arènes: l928 - l934
Following the successful reception of his atelier d'art, François Guillaume embarked on the organisation of a series of exhibitions in the rue des Arènes, a series which was not to be terminated until the deepening political crisis and world crisis would intervene. Befitting a man whose cultural instincts were so inextricably linked with those of his province and nation, the focus of each reflected particular aspects of French art and craftsmanship, both historical and contemporary. Between December l928 and l938, eighteen in all were mounted, and the positioning of eleven shortly before Christmas of each year indicates that they were primarily perceived as being promotional in purpose. Nevertheless, an examination of the themes and content of each clearly reveals that underlying all there was a deep desire to bring to the attention of the public either significant events in the history of the nation or recent trends in the decorative and industrial arts. In some years, exhibitions were held to coincide with the annual Foire de Bourges and on two occasions, in October of the years l934 and l935, two independent themes were presented.
The Exhibitions and their themes
l. l6 Dec. l928 - Le service et la parure de la table.
2. June l929
3. 3 Dec. l929 - Tables de Tôle
4. l5 Dec. l930 - L'art de la table
5. l3 Dec. l93l - L'art de la table et de la décoration intérieure
6. 26 June l932 - Vases, Poteries et Fleurs
7. l8 Dec. l932 - Vases et Cristaux Français
9. June l934 - Foire de Bourges
l0. l6 Dec. l934 - Exposition de la Manufacture Nationale de Sèvres
ll. 2 June l935 - 'l775-l875: Un siècle d'Art Populaire Berrichon
à La Borne (près d'Henrichemont, Cher)'
l2. l5 Dec. l935 - L'art au Foyer
l3. 20 Dec. l936 - Recherche pour le service du restaurant Pavillon 'Berry-Nivernais' à l'Exposition de l937
l4. l2 Dec. l937 - Berrichons au Travail
l5. l8 Dec. l938 - Vieux Flacons, Vieilles Bouteilles.
l930: 29 June - l'Exposition du Romantisme - Mounted to celebrate the centenary of 'les trois glorieuses', the revolution of l830 and the establishment of the July Monarchy.
l. Rétrospective: Bibelots, Céramique, Verrerie de l'Epoque.
2. l'Influence de l'époque romantique sur la céramique
l934: October: Collection des Lesseps.
l935: 2l October: La Collection de Céramiques et Verreries Anciennes des Châteaux de Planches(Indre) .Cette collection compte plus de cinq cents pièces. (67)
Though the main body of these promotions concentrated on the two most significant lines promoted by the shop, from l93l onwards there is an emphasis, conscious or otherwise, on ceramics and, as far as prestige was concerned, this was to reach a climax in December l934 when the premises were placed at the disposition of the Manufacture Nationale de Sèvres for a comprehensive display of the work of the factory.
Exposition de la Manufacture Nationale de Sèvres
Locally, considerable importance was attached to an exhibition of this calibre, particularly the personal collaboration of the director of the Manufacture Nationale de Sèvres, Georges Lechevallier-Chevignard who, accompanied by M. Parrot-Lagerenne, the commercial director, attended in person, to receive the many guests and local dignitaries, and to present' au public les différentes pièces de la collection, avec une compétence n'ayant d'égale que sa grande amabilité.' (68)
Inaugurated on the morning of Sunday, l0 December, l934, the windows and normal display area of rue des Arènes had been tastefully veiled 'pour assurer aux 'Sèvres' un cadre homogenize et somptueux.' (69) The event elicited the interest of not only the public, but also many personalities from the local art and industrial worlds, figures such as Eduoard Duneufgermain, proprietors and directors of porcelain factories in Foëcy, Vierzon and Mehun-sur-Yèvre and, in addition, an official delegation from the Chambre Syndicale des Porcelainiers du Berry. (70) The great tradition of Sèvres was represented by a selection of porcelain boxes, decorated in the royal blue which, in the past, had been its glory, but interest was excited by the more recent products resulting from the policies adopted by Georges Lechevalier-Chevignard, since taking over direction in l920:
'... Le Sèvres d'aujourd'hui, authentiquement
du Sèvres, nous apparaît sous des aspects
extraordinairement divers et heureux. A côté
des modèles classiques des formes nouvelles
et des décors nouveaux, d'un sage modernisme,
s'offrent à nos yeux émerveilles ...' (7l)
Under its new director, the facilities of the factory had been opened to outside artists, notables such as Ruhlmann, Zadkine, Laurens, Jean and Raoul Dufy who proposed new forms and decorations. (72) Though the sculpture of the period was marked by a preference for glazed and brightly coloured forms, the traditional biscuitware was still used to produce those that reflected the current taste for figure and animal groups. (73) This latter, 'biscuit de Sèvres, multiforme et riche', offered to the Bourges public busts of Clemenceau, Marshal Joffre, a head of Christ and a representation of 'La Republique' (74), but those most admired were 'la femme et l'enfant aux bras étendus dans un geste si gracieux' by Comtesse and a figure of 'Maternité', from an original model by Bouchard. (75) (Fig. 99) Such pieces were representative of the practice that had continued from the late nineteenth century when, to make their works accessible to a wider audience, masters such as Rodin had encouraged noted ceramic artists to edit their sculptures.
If, as the press informed its readers, Georges Lechevallier-Chevignard 'véritable animateur de notre manufacture nationale', had striven to ensure that Sèvres might become above all, 'le conservatoire des arts céramiques, ... il a voulu aussi qu'il soit un centre de recherches de nouveaux procédés techniques et de vulgarisation des oeuvres les plus modernes' (76), the general consensus of opinion was that, with such a display, he had shown his policies to have been successful. The esteem which was now seen to be due to François Guillaume was shortly to be publicly expressed in the local press, on the occasion of his next exhibition, in June l935:
'... M. Guillaume a certainement reçu le don
des expositions. Il ne peut en être autrement
pour qu'en l'espace de deux ans, il nous ait
fait admirer quatre expositions se rapportant
évidemment toutes à la céramique, mais combien
éloignées les unes des autres par leur
caractère et leur originalité ...' (77)