La Grande Tuilerie d’Ivry — Part Two: Muller and Art Nouveau
18 March 2020
This series of articles dedicated to the company of the ceramist Émile Muller in Ivry gives an overview of his creations in the field of Art Nouveau. The first article summarized the history of the company. In this second article we look more precisely at the collaborations with the artists and architects of this artistic movement. The third and fourth article will focus on Hector Guimard’s model editions at Muller & Cie and the fith on the fireplace sector.
Following the death of Émile Muller in 1889 after the Universal Exhibition, his son Louis d’Émile Muller took over the management of the company. The latter developed an artistic sector by publishing contemporary artists and intensifying relations with architects for the creation of new models to be published or not.
The private mansion known as La Pagode, built in a Japanese style in 1895-1896 by the architect Alexandre Marcel for the director of Bon Marché, at 57 rue de Babylone in Paris, is a good example of this. Only a part of the enamelled stoneware decoration can be found in the catalogue.
Two panels from the decoration of La Pagode, architect Alexandre Marcel, 1895-1896, 57 rue de Babylone, Paris. Catalogue Muller et Cie No. 2, 1904, pl. 15. Private collection. Each panel: 12 kg; red or white terracotta: 15 F-gold; enamelled terracotta: 30 F-gold; unenamelled stoneware: 20 F-gold; enamelled stoneware: 40 F-gold.
Among the young designers who came into contact with Muller & Cie many will participate in one way or another in the Art Nouveau artistic movement, focused on decorative art and architecture. Their work will generate a large number of new models that are likely to be reused by others. It is therefore essential for a company such as the Grande Tuilerie d’Ivry to keep up to date and to be able to supply without delay those architects, contractors and decorators who are not themselves creators but who wish to give their work a modern look. The Muller & Cie catalogues will therefore include a significant number of Art Nouveau style models.
Catalogue n° 1, which includes building materials with bricks and tiles, is enriched with models in which Art Nouveau makes a discreet appearance on plate 33 with two models of verge tiles and pediments which frame a more traditional neo-Renaissance model. These are models not signed by an architect and were therefore purchased from an anonymous industrial artist.
Verge tiles from the Muller & Cie catalogue n° 1, pl. 33. 1903. Reproduced from La Céramique architecturale à travers les catalogues des fabricants, p. 167.
We will rely more readily on the plethoric catalogue no. 2 of 1904, which is mainly devoted to products for exterior and interior architectural decoration, but which also includes vases, pieces of art and trinkets. Many well-known artists can be found in this catalogue, and among those who worked in the Art Nouveau movement are the sculptors Pierre Roche, Ringel d’Illzach, Jean Dampt, Timoléon Guérin and Louis Chalon.
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