A look at the design, market and legacy of Victorian pottery

Saturday, December 31, 2011

A sad reproduction

I've been writing a lot about reproductions lately. Unfortunately they have begun to permeate the majolica scene more than ever before. My last post was about an exceptionally good reproduction that is currently flooding the marketplace. This last post of the year is about the opposite--an exceptionally bad reproduction.

I have to admit I get a little giddy when I see something like this offered on line with a straight face. It's bad on such a cosmic level that it's hard to believe anyone would take it seriously but I need to remind myself that not everyone is familiar with every specialty. I know that I could very easily be fooled by a bad Chinese porcelain reproduction because I know very little about Chinese porcelain. Still, this is an awful piece by any measure.


The above plate is being offered on line as an authentic George Jones piece of majolica in the Palissy style. The price is $700+. The reverse has a GJ "applied pad" signature.


Now, there are several things wrong here.
To the best of my knowledge George Jones never made majolica in the Palissy style. The closest I can think of would be their plates done for the Biarritz resorts and even that doesn't look anything like true Palissy.



The conceit that the reproduction platter is GJ Palissy is absurd.  Of course one look at the reverse should hammer that home for anyone with even the most basic knowledge of majolica.
Compare the mark on the reproduction (top) with the genuine article (bottom).



Not even the glaze is correct, with the repro glaze not being shiny like the real thing.

I would hope that no one who reads this blog would be fooled by anything like this.
I would hope!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Majolica in the Movies: Meet Me in St Louis

Christmas is the time of year that all the old movie chestnuts with even the slightest connection to the season show up on our TV screens. At the top of my list of Christmas themed movies has to be the wonderful 1944 film, Meet Me in St. Louis.

I've probably seen this movie a hundred times. In fact, I even have a photo of me taken in college watching Judy Garland singing "Have yourself a merry little Christmas", a song from the film on the TV in my bedroom. That was a long time before many reading this blog were born. I watch the movie every year when it finds it's way onto TV. I mention all this to illustrate how one can know a film as intimately as I know this one and still find surprises in it.


The movie takes place in St. Louis as it follows the Smith family just before the opening of the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. The story is a musical trifle, just an excuse for the wonderful songs, period settings and talents of its stars.

Last night as I was paying my annual homage to the Smith family, I noticed majolica among the Victorian settings of the Smith home. In this case there was in the bedroom of the grandfather a lovely Jugendstil majolica sanitary set on a dresser. The film's director, Vincente Minnelli, was a Broadway set designer before he went west to Hollywood to become a director. He had a remarkable eye for set detail as can be seen in any of his period films like Gigi and Lust for Life

What a lovely surprise to find my favorite pottery in my favorite  holiday movie!
See if you too can catch it the next time the movie comes around to your TV set.