FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (11/03)
Parian Porcelain from the Butler Collection in Memory of Camille Chappell Sample at Meadows Museum of Art Dec. 7–Jan. 31; Porcelain Identification Event is Dec. 7
SHREVEPORT, LA—The Meadows Museum of Art at Centenary College will present the holiday exhibition Parian Porcelain from the Butler Collection in Memory of Camille Chappell Sample Dec. 7-Jan. 31.
On loan to the Meadows Museum by Mrs. Carl Butler III of Columbus, Miss., the exhibition features approximately three dozen Parian porcelain works that recall a kinder, gentler time in history. Programs developed in tandem with this exhibition include an opening lecture at 2 p.m. followed by a porcelain identification session from 3 to 5 p.m. Dec. 7 in the Museum galleries. John Webster Keefe, the RosaMary Curator of Decorative Arts from the New Orleans Museum of Art, will lecture about Parian porcelain and then participate in the identification of European and American porcelain objects from all eras. Participation in both the lecture and the Porcelain Identification is open to the public.
The white, unglazed, marble-like substance that is Parian porcelain was one of the ceramic marvels of the Early Victorian world. No proper 19th-century household was adequately decorated without a Parian figure on the mantelpiece, parlor table or etagere.
The concept of white unglazed figural work in porcelain began with the biscuit, or bisque, tradition of the 18th century, when such work was produced by eminent factories including Sevres in France and Derby in England. During the 1820s, England’s Minton works also produced a wide range of biscuit porcelain figures. Popular as their works were, they were costly to manufacture and had a chalky surface highly subject to soiling. What was needed was a more dense porcelain capable of achieving elaborate detail and impervious to staining.
That desired substance was Parian porcelain, the debut of which was made in 1845 although exactly which English firm is to be credited with its introduction remains the subject of debate 153 years later. The name “Parian” was taken from the island of Paros, a major ancient-world source for the white marble sculpture of the Greeks. Although many of the sources for Parian porcelain drew upon the Classical world as the name implies, the subjects were actually brilliantly eclectic, drawing upon the Renaissance, 18th Century France, literature, history, contemporary politics and events and personalities. No matter what the subject, all of these varied sources were designed to tastefully demonstrate the advanced sensibility and educated status of the owners of such porcelain. The porcelain sculptures on view in the Meadows Museum galleries were chosen to specifically reflect this wide and varied range of subject matter.
Although long in vogue, Parian porcelain fell from favor by 1900 and into almost complete disrepute during the WWII era. However, by the 1960s, a few adventuresome, well-informed collectors were again looking with a favorable eye at Victorian porcelains. Among such pioneer collectors were Carl and Dixie Butler, who had purchased their now-famous 1837 Mississippi residence, “Temple Heights,” in 1965. Four years later, Carl Butler made a Valentine’s Day present to his wife of a single piece of Parian porcelain. That gift initiated a mutual interest in Parian, and the Butler collection now numbers well over 100 stunning examples. Today, Parian porcelain is enjoying a renewed vogue, and many collectors like the Butlers once again vie with one another to possess it.
The exhibition is sponsored by O. Delton Harrison Jr., Gretchen Crow and Helen Rickenbacker in memory of Camille Chappell Sample. The printing of educational and informational materials and honoraria have been funded by a grant from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Parian Porcelain lecture
The public is encouraged to bring porcelain items of all types for identification.
Cost: $2.50 per object for Friends members or $5 per object for non-members.
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