Here for your consideration is a Denbac French Art Deco pottery covered box, #70 [Denert & Balichon], c. 1921 - 1935. It is an exceptional example of Art Deco pottery of the early 1900's. The piece encompasses the Denbac signature micro-crystalline glaze of green, blue, grey and an opaque-taupe pearlescent thread of color. The movement and blend of colors frame the cow pattern wonderfully throughout the piece. It is marked on the bottom under glaze: Denbac [script signature], 70 and in excellent condition with no cracks, chips, crazing or repairs. SEE PHOTOS FOR DETAILS. Please do not hesitate to ask questions.
MEASUREMENT: 5" D x 2 3/4" H.
Denert & Balichon History:
Rene' Denert was a self-taught ceramist and industrialist born on May 9, 1872 in Vitry-le-François, a commune located on the Marne River in Northeastern France and married at the age of 25. He began his career as an intern and workman at several porcelain factories and than at the L'Hospied & Cie from Golfe-Juan, established in 1888, a supplier of enamel and glazes. He was employed at the plant Bouvier, which manufactured earthenware and majolica before establishing his own studio. His studio and workshop was located on Rue Camille Desmoulins in France and would be its permanent place of business through growth, expansion and its closing.
In the beginning, the workshop used simple traditional methods, first by utilizing a square-type furnace like "Sevres" in 1908, Rene' Denert made his first experiments with majolica glazes, metallic and pearlescent. He was seeking specific reducing atmospheres by the combustion of rags soaked in oils and fats. It was not until February 1, 1909 until he would register the workshop with the Chamber of Commerce Vierzon under the title "factory sandstone flamed", listing himself as the manager with a working capital of five hundred thousand francs. Denert knew that the city of Vierzon would be an ideal place to establish his footing as a contender and leader in producing the fashionable stoneware of his day particularly in his region, ie., Art Nouveau-style wares (1890 - 1905), Art Deco (1920's - 1940's) majolica and stoneware, as well as Arts and Crafts (1880's - 1930's) designs. The city of Vierzon was already known for its 'arts and fire' and home to both a number of large and small family and industrial businesses that produced pasta and cooked stoneware and porcelain during that time period. He would virtually eliminate his need to look for skilled workers or a source of fuel for the ovens, because the coal came directly from the basin of Blanzy, carried to the factories by the Canal du Berry.
The R. Denert factory would get the second part of its driving force around 1910 with the arrival of Rene' Louis Balichon. R. L. Balichon was born on July 9, 1885 in Vierzon, France and would serve as the company's sales and marketing manager. In 1914, the Denert & Balichon company and partnership would eventually evolve to become known as "Denbac", which were a combination of the letters in both their names. But, the "Denbac" name was not registered with the Chamber of Commerce Vierzon until January 6, 1921 under the title, "artistic stoneware factory." The creation of the "Denbac" signature is believed to be the marketing genius of Balichon. He felt that for commercial purposes, a simpler and shorter word would serve as a more practical means for making parts for branding the company's name on wares. The 'Denbac' signature brand name was never used as a legal business name. The company grew under the artistic direction and leadership of Rene' Denert. Along with the many designs that he drew, sculpted and molded, there were countless experimentation, failure and success with various glazes. The Denert & Balichon company would become well known for its micro-crystalline glazes. The expansion of the business was evident when the first round oven was built in 1918, the second in 1920 and the third in 1921, which enabled them to obtain higher-fired glazes to transform their porous biscuit porcelain into pieces of stylish and fashionable Art Pottery. The expansion of the premises, would make the layout of the facility more practical. The store was found on the ground floor and the workshops, along with casting, turning, glazing and refinishing were located upstairs. The Denert & Balichon company employed up to 25 employees when operating all three furnaces. The company was inactive from the periods of 1914 to 1918 and 1939 to 1945.
Rene' Denert died on June 7, 1937 at the age of 63 just before the ensuing war years of WWII [1939 - 1945]. He designed over 670 models that were documented in catalogs created for commercial purposes only. These catalogs allowed wholesalers to place orders through the price of the tables in the front pages. There are several models, the most widely published among collectors, because it was photocopied [a table showing photos of products for sale]. It was published in the 1930's by printing TOURY in Vierzon, which always included pieces designed by Denert 1900 style. This system was used because, the molds have always been kept and the parts were sold on demand. All the artifacts for 40 years are documented in these catalogs, but may not be represented, because the original piece and molds may have been destroyed to prevent reproduction or the play was voluntarily withdrawn from the catalog, because it was no longer salable or was a special order, such as a personalized bottle for distribution by a distillery. Now, only the characters and animals in the catalog were created by sculptors other than Denert, such as Marie Calvet who specialized in animals and pots for liqueur produced after the WWII.
Denert & Balichon struggled, along with others during the wartime periods, but was able to persevere through those challenges and re-opened its studios and workshops one last time in 1945 after the Second World War ended. The loss of the second part of the Denert & Balichon leadership was felt with the death of Rene' Louis Balichon on January 8, 1949. The heirs of R. L. Balichon would attempt to manage and operate the factory after his death, along with the assistance of Roger LaValley, but with too many obstacles and variables to overcome, the business closed its doors in 1952.
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