Wednesday, January 12, 2011

One of My Favorite Mystery Pieces

Some antiques dealers “just sell the stuff” and others spend countless hours researching and trying as best they can to find out everything possible about what they sell.

We fall into the latter category.

Some buyers seek out items from people who “didn’t know what they had” and others prefer the security of dealing with a knowledgeable seller.

We attract the latter.

To each his own…there’s no way to persuade the “they didn’t know what they had” crowd, even though, in truth, one is far more likely to fare better dealing with a seller who knows his or her stuff.

Of course, one can not know everything and as hard as one tries, an antiques dealer’s life is full of mysteries and mystery pieces.

This¨French faïence tile is just such a piece…mystery piece lachenalIt’s one of my favorite mystery pieces. The mystery is not a total “who dunnit” as the tile is signed…
mystery piece lachenal back So we know that Lachenal is the creator…but which Lachenal?

There’s Edmond (1855-1930), who began working with Théodore Deck at the tender age of fifteen and eventually started his own pottery studio in Malakoff, a Parisian suburb, in 1880. But Edmond had two sons, Raoul (1885-1956), who, after working with his father, opened a pottery of his own in 1904 in another Parisian suburb…what is now known as Boulogne-Billancourt and Jean-Jacques who also worked with his father and later, after returning from World War I, opened a studio in 1918 in yet another Paris suburb…Chantillon.

This signature is on a piece said to be by Edmond and it certainly looks very similar to the signature on ours…
lachenal mark said to be edmond




But in some cases, Edmond signed his pieces like so…
lachenal edmond mark
…with an E. in front…but those were later pieces…works that were very art nouveau in form and style. Our tile is more in keeping with Edmond’s earlier work with Deck…well before the birth of his sons…and thus, before he might have felt the need to differentiate between “Lachenals”.

Raoul used a backwards R in front of Lachenal on many of his pieces…and most of his work doesn’t correspond to the style of our tile…so he’s less likely to be the right answer.

Jean-Jacques’ pieces are maddeningly signed “Lachenal” in virtually identical lettering…but again, his designs reflect the more modern post-World War I motifs.

So we’re leaning towards an Edmond Lachenal attribution…and so do those we’ve asked…but until this tile starts talking…one will never be positive…and so, the mystery continues. 

Stay tuned for more behind the scenes adventures of The Meadows Collection…or check out the results at …and for more fun that is specifically related to French faïence…go to

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