May 23, 2019
As we know, Provence has a very rich history and a lot of its cultural past has sustained the test of time. The beautiful linens we sell are a fine example of it. Provence is also known for its traditional ceramics. Those of you who have visited Provence (and those who have visited the Getty museum in Los Angeles or the Smithsonian Design Museum in New York) may be familiar with the Moustiers faïences, the subject of today's post.
Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is a small village with a population of about 700 that is nestled against rocky mountains in the heart of Provence. The tradition of the Moustiers faïences (earthenware) can be traced back to the middle ages with simple ceramic pieces in solid green and brown. In the 17th century, a local by the name of Pierre Clérissy took the manufacture of pottery to a new level after being initiated by a visiting monk from the Italian city of Faenza (which is where the word faïence originates from). White pieces were now possible which opened up a blank canvas for artful decorations. Soon after, French King Louis XIV ordered all gold and silver tableware to be melted to replenish the royal treasure in preparation for war. This edict had the effect of promoting fine ceramics as the new form of luxurious tableware. Since the King also had the monopoly on porcelain, earthenware such as the Moustiers faïences became the favorite of the wealthy French. For the next century the Moustiers ceramics were in constant high demand. In the 19th century, the popularity started to decline due to competition from English and Chinese ceramics until the last faïencerie closed in the Victorian era. In 1927, a man by the (fitting) name of Marcel Provence reintroduced the Moustiers tradition and started the comeback of the beautiful ceramics to their former glory.
The Moustiers faiences are characterized by fine designs, usually blue, green and gold, on a white background. The designs relate to local folklore and natural elements of the region. Probably the most popular Moustiers design is the one that depicts birds, butterflies and flowers.
As we all know, decorated fabric is another Provençal tradition, so it is easy to see how the designs of Moustiers would make their way onto local fabrics. Today, the Moustiers design goes hand in hand with the traditional sunflower, olive, poppy and lavender table linens.
We carry the beautiful bird and flower Moustiers design by Tissus Toselli in round and rectangular tablecloths, napkins, quilted placemats, apron, oven mitt and bread basket on our website in the traditional blue and gold decor. Shop the Moustiers line in the I Dream of France store and bring the beautiful artwork to your home!