The double gourd, originally a Chinese shape, was a form perfected by the Massier studios, as evidenced by this vase. The gourd, the rind of which at one time was used as a vessel from which to drink, is employed symbolically as the cup from which the bees have come to drink the nectar. The round shape of the lower bulb suggests firstly, the whole flower over which the bees are hovering. We can imagine, though not quite actually see the actual petals, as they are represented only by the subtle background etching which reflects differing qualities of light. The petals, therefore, are more implied than indicated. Visualised everted, the lower bulb is seen to be the inside of the flower, the dimpled spots, the pollen for which the bees have come. The upper bulb elegantly mimics the flower still in bud stage, just prior to blooming. The variety of imagery in this lowkey vase can easily be missed without sufficient thought and imagination.
About Clément Massier
Born into a family of ceramists, Clément Massier took an interest in the business from an early age. In 1884, after years of work, study, and travel, he relocated his share of the family firm to Golfe-Juan and began producing Hispano-Moresque-influenced pottery, with silver and copper oxide glazes made iridescence in a smoky kiln. Following the arrival Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer in 1887, Massier introduced fiery luster glazes enriched with etching and painting, applying them to forms ranging from hand-built individuality to slip-cast uniformity. He was soon in command of a busy factory and a showroom that boasted an elite international clientele. [Source: Jason Jacques]
French, 1845-1917, Vallauris, France, based in Golfe-Juan, France