Monumental vaseFrance, c. 1930
glazed and fired stoneware
17¾ dia x 16¾ h in (45 x 43 cm)
Incised signature to underside: [Besnard/France].provenance: Acquired from L'Arc en Seine, Paris, circa 2002 by the present owners
Jean Besnard was born in 1889 to artistic parents: his father Albert Besnard was a portrait painter and printmaker that worked in the style of Thomas Gainsborough, and his mother Charlotte Dubray was a talented sculptor. His first training in ceramics was in an apprenticeship in Savoy, where he learned folk methods of pottery. His formal training began at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Here, Besnard was a part of a group of fashionable artists known as the ‘Knights of the Bracelet’, a reference to their flamboyant clothing and jewelry. During his studies, Besnard became fascinated with unique methods of glazing, as well as traditional forms of Greek and Egyptian pottery.
He received critical acclaim for his ceramic works when he exhibited with the Salon des Artistes Décorateurs in 1923. Besnard’s work was displayed at this Salon alongside his ceramic contemporaries—Séraphin Soudbinine, Paul Beyer, and Émile Decoeur. After this initial success, Besnard continued to exhibit publicly, and his work was featured in both the Salon des Tuileries and the Salon D’Automne. In 1925, Besnard was awarded a silver medal at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs for his works decorated in a golden and black craquelée glaze. Best known for his unique experimentations in glazes, from 1927 to 1928, Besnard developed his most distinctive finish: a delicate white lace glaze. He also worked in thicker glazes, which he incised with repeating patterns, and in bright enamel finishes. Besnard died in 1958, but he left behind an impressive œuvre of ceramic works, as well as a history of creating pieces for Jacques Adnet, Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann and the Atelier Dominique.