Edouard Chapallaz, ‘Vase’, 1968, Phillips

From the Catalogue:
The Venezuelan born Fina Gomez (1920-1997) had a classical approach to art, through painting, sculpture and architecture. Because of her devotion to the arts, in 1961, Gomez created a foundation to promote the cultural exchange between South America and Europe. The following year she presented the exhibition ‘100 years of painting in France’ at the Museum of Fine Arts in Caracas, it was here that she met the ceramicist Christina Merchán, and was first exposed to l’art de la terre. It was on her next visit to Europe that she again met with Merchán, which is where she fully embarked upon her passionate journey to build a unique ceramic collection.

Fina Gomez mixed her taste in ceramics with the art of friendship. She did not disassociate the makers from their work and was profoundly happy to discover and meet exceptional artists. One needs to merely cite the vases of Bernard Leach, of which the most remarkable examples are present in this collection. Was it down to chance, or her fair? Was it the influence of Christina Merchán who had already taken up stoneware before they met? Or perhaps it was attributable to her Anglo-Saxon knowledge that was so rare in France? From the beginning of the 1960s, while she was living in France, she discovered a modern movement where forms were made from stoneware, simplified, in a subdued palette, inspired by Chinese and Japanese works. In short a movement which was preached by Bernard Leach. During this time, the majority of ceramicists in France still worked in earthenware, using powerful colours, a fashion which was reintroduced by Picasso after the war. It was through Francine Del Pierre that Fina Gomez met Bernard Leach and Shoji Hamada. It is due to Leach that she discovered La Borne, a village in Berry known for its long tradition of stoneware, where, from 1940, great French ceramicists, such as Elisabeth Jouila, and international ceramicists, such as Gutte Eriksen, would meet. Thanks to the Biennale of Ceramics in Vallauris she met the Swiss ceramicist Chappallaz. Later, she multiplied her trips to London, where she already knew Lucie Rie, whose subtle poetry she could not but appreciate, and where she acquired pieces by Hans Coper. The Parisian gallery, DM Sarver, helped her follow the rapid adoption of all French ceramicists belonging to the movement created by Leach. Through the gallery she also discovered Pierre Bayle, who succeeded in making antique vases in Terra sigillata fashionable again. The pure forms and lively colours of Alev Siesbye’s bowls were also fully embraced by Fina Gomez.

Over more than thirty years, she would lay her refined eye on works that have become historic pieces. Her appreciation gave them an existence. Other works unloved by her faced no other fate but to disappear. In hindsight, her choices are evident, but when she started that was far from being the case: her talent for collecting revealed itself to be as impressive as the ceramicists whose work she collected.

Antoinette Hallé
Head of Cultural Heritage Conservation
Honorary Director of The Sèvres Ceramics Museum
Courtesy of Phillips

Signature: Incised with artist's name *Chapallaz *and impressed with artist's seal *CHAPALLAZ/DUILLIER*.

Collection Fina Gomez, 30 ans de céramique contemporaine', Musée des Arts décoratifs, Paris, 12 March-23 June 1991
'Céramiques Contemporaines de la Collection Fina Gomez', Musée National Adrien Dubouché, Limoges, 19 October 1995-5 February 1996

Yvonne Brunhammer, et al., Collection Fina Gomez, 30 ans de céramique contemporaine, exh. cat., Musée des Arts décoratifs, Paris, 1991, illustrated front cover, p. 40, cat. no. 30

Biennale de Vallauris
Fina Gomez, 1968
Thence by descent to the present owner