This is a glorious set of French Barbotine asparagus plates for 12 with the matching serving plate in the most lovely pastel shades and floral design showing pendulous 'bleeding heart' (Coeur de Marie) flowers in dark and pale pink surrounding the rims with intertwining green leaves. In great vintage condition!
The asparagus tips are varying shades of lilac and the single spear on the right side of the plate is curved around an indentation to hold the butter or sauce. The wonderful matching serving dish is the same design and would easily hold several substantial bunches of this popular vegetable. There are shades of pale blue on the serving cradle and on some of the plates. It is not hard to imagine how striking some bright green asparagus would look on these plates. The pastel colors vary slightly between some of the dishes but the whole looks stunning as a set, whether used for display or service. A full set for 12, with the serving platter in this condition is a rare find!
Plates measure 9" and the server is 13 1/4" long and 8" wide.
Although the marks on several pieces in this set have seriously faded with time, all pieces are identically marked with K and G, St Clement, France - all in capital letters. This mark would have been used between 1892 and 1922. These plates and the serving cradle are shown on page 22 of the definitive guide "Artichauts et Asperges en Barbotine" by Maryse Bottero and are listed as No 449 in the St. Clement catalog of that period. So this full set represents a wonderful bit of history of fine French Barbotine/Majolica.
The condition of this set is excellent considering its age. Three of the plates have a microchip (less than 2mm) to the rim which are not noticeable but can be felt. There is some expected age related fading and minor crazing on 3 of the plates which are also showing some light discoloration (please see the last photo). The serving cradle/platter is in pristine condition.
St. Clement has an interesting history having been founded in 1758 when they were celebrated as suppliers to Marie Antoinette. Sadly that association led to the owner and the artist facing the guillotine in 1794, after which the company fell into demise. However from 1820 management improved and the company became renowned for the quality of its Barbotine 'faiencerie'. They were purchased by Keller and Guerin in 1892, who also bought the neighboring Luneville factory at the same time. The spirit and creativity of Keller and Guerin's designs celebrated the Art Nouveau movement and brought the St. Clement company further accolades. This pattern epitomizes the artistry of that period. Pastel colors were often used, pieces were all hand decorated and considered to be of a rare elegance.
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