Here is a set of magnificent portraits that immediately bring to my mind Puccini’s great opera La Bohème, which premiered in 1896. Well, perhaps these ragamuffin teens are just a bit too young as stand-ins for Puccini’s characters, but they do certainly evoke the life-style of Rodolfo and Mimi and Marcello, impoverished in material terms but full of vibrant life and love. Or perhaps you’d rather think of them as characters from Oliver Twist by Dickens. Each one is a distinct individual, but they are all tied together by motifs such as flowers in their hats and their subtle color palette. This set of plates is signed, variously, “Georges Poitevan” and “Jean.” Nothing seems to be known about these names, and perhaps the word Poitevan refers not to the last name of a pair of brothers who are decorators but instead refers to the name of a porcelain factory (“in the vicinity of Poitiers”), with the first names of two artists. These names are known from other finely decorated porcelains of the period in the Limoges style. Of course, Jean and Georges might have home-decorated the porcelain blanks that they bought from a nearby high-quality factory. The mark on the back side of some of the plates is interesting but I haven’t been able to trace it--another hint that perhaps these were decorated in an independent studio rather than a factory. They are nine inches across and the condition is superb, with only very slight gilding wear to the rims and a few faint scratches, though one plate has two tiny nicks in its portrait (colored in to match). They would display well against the back wall of a cabinet or on a shelf. I made a high estimate on the packing weight, and I'll refund part of the charge if the shipping cost is significantly less.
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