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Chinese Form “Bleu Deck” Lamp

Possibly designed by Emile Reiber (1826-1893)
Manufactured by Theodore Deck [signed] (1823-1891). Mounts probably by Ferdinand Barbedienne (1810-1892). c. 1865-70

Having seen an exhibition of “Persian” earthenware at the Musée de Cluny in 1858, the French ceramicist Theodore Deck was so struck by the luminosity of its colors that he decided to attempt to reproduce it. The following year he obtained a broken “Isnik” tile and – after much analysis and experimentation – produced several comparable glazes. Deck discovered that the brilliant hues of Islamic earthenware resulted from a base coating of white alkaline slip containing tin oxide. The decorations done in enamel were then covered with a clear glaze, producing vivid, translucent effects. One of the hues Deck achieved – a deep turquoise – was created using potash, carbonate of soda and chalk. This color was particularly admired and came to be known as “bleu Deck.”1 He exhibited vases with this rich deep turquoise glaze at the London International Exposition in 1862, where they were highly acclaimed.

Pieces with this glaze are highly prized and much sought after. Signed with Deck’s “ThD” monogram, the present carcel lamp, with its allover bas-relief and original gilt bronze mounts, is a fine example of his innovative work. The piece may have been designed by Emile Reiber based on a Chinese vase in the collection of Henry Cernuschi (1821-1986).

1 Harlow, Frederica Todd, “Theodore Deck and the Islamic Style” published in Saudi Aramco World, July/August 1992, available online at “www.ceramicstoday.com.”:http://www.ceramicstoday.com
2 Bumpus, Bernard, Theodore Deck Céramiste. London: H. Blairman & Sons, 2000, p. 9.