This end-lopped egg-shaped “Vase Troyen” (number 46 in the Massier studios catalogue) exemplifies Lévy’s ability to creatively reuse material in surprisingly original ways. The portrayal of mollusks in a submarine setting was a much-loved subject. The shells here are characteristically deftly delineated. Most are deep-etched; one is scratch-etched, a technique Lévy used often. We view the scene as if the vase was lying horizontally, and we peer down through the water to see shells resting on the sandy sea bed. Lévy ‘up-drips’ suggest rocks, beyond which the golden brown of sand yields to the dark blue of deeper water. We sense movement in the water from the shadows of upwardly spiraling indentations. Slicing through the water are piercing shafts of electric blue light cleaved by the interplay of factors above. Because of the ambiguity of the horizontal-vertical axis, to see this vase as intended requires concentrated attention. However, to see it as a beautifully balanced congregation of shapes and textures with a striking color scheme is a sufficient enough reward to maintain our sense of wonder.
-Description by Christopher Baker
About Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer
Best known today as a Symbolist painter, Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer made an unforgettable impact on France's ceramics revolution through his work with Clément Massier in Golfe-Juan between 1887 and 1895. The two men worked together on innovative shapes, the rediscovery of luster glazes, and the use of luster glazes with etching to bring about fantastically complex effects. Lévy-Dhurmer's decorations were influenced by the prevailing fervor for Japanese, Islamic, and other Near Eastern ceramics but, a Symbolist at heart, he often rejected realism in favor of mysticism and spirituality. His unique contribution was his ability to produce shapes and patterns that seem to shimmer with life, while suggesting deeper meanings. [Source: Jason Jacques]