The Bracquemond-Rousseau Table Service of 1866


Japoniste Ceramics and the Realignment of Medium Hierarchies in Nineteenth-Century French Art


In: Journal of Japonisme

Inspired by Japanese art and French eighteenth-century porcelain, the Rousseau-Bracquemond ceramic table service of 1866 blurred the line between the decorative and the fine arts. Exhibited at the 1867 World’s Fair in Paris, the service met with exceptional critical and commercial success. This paper focuses on the Rousseau-Bracquemond service to propose that cross-cultural encounters unsettled hierarchical relationships among media in nineteenth-century France. Through a visual and historiographical analysis of this case study, the paper offers a re-evaluation of the interrelationships among ceramics and modern painting. Challenging Eurocentric art historical narratives, the paper explores how the Rousseau-Bracquemond service connected Japonisme, historicism, and Republican thought. Politically charged and technically innovative, the service exemplified a new type of cross-media collaborations among a network of artists, dealers, critics, and collectors. At the intersection of ornament and realism, their radical work marked a major change in the relation between art and design.


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  • 5

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  • 6

    Bouillon, Shimizu and Thiebaut, Art, industrie et japonisme, p. 14. Also: Alfred de Lostalot, “Artistes contemporains: M. Félix Bracquemond, peintre-graveur,” in Gazette des beaux-arts, vol. 26, issue 29, 1884, series of three articles.

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  • 7

    Gabriel Weisberg, “Rethinking Japonisme: the Popularization of a Taste,” in The Orient Expressed: Japan’s Influence on Western Art, 1854–1918 (Mississippi Museum of Art, 2011), p. 20.

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  • 10

    Weisberg, “Rethinking Japonisme: the Popularization of a Taste,” p. 20.

  • 12

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  • 14

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  • 16

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  • 19

    Edmond de Goncourt, L’art du dix-huitième siècle (Paris: Hermann, 1967), p. 24.

  • 21

    Sarah Sik, “‘Those Naughty Little Geishas’: The Gendering of Japonisme” in The Orient Expressed: Japan’s Influence on Western Art, 1854–1918 (Mississippi Museum of Art, 2011), pp. 107–126.

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  • 22

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  • 25

    Among other sources: Colta Feller Ives, The Great Wave: The Influence of Japanese Woodcuts on French Prints (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1980). Also, for information on Bracquemond’s etchings after Japanese models: Gabriel Weisberg, “Felix Bracquemond and Japanese Influence in Ceramic Decoration,” in The Art Bulletin, vol. 51, issue 3, 1969, pp. 277–280.

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  • 26

    Laurinda Dixon, “Trade and Tradition: Japan and the Dutch Golden Age,” in The Orient Expressed: Japan’s Influence on Western Art, 1854–1918 (Mississippi Museum of Art, 2011), p. 91.

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  • 27

    Daniel Sastre de la Vega, “Intensificando La Mirada: Rusu-Moyō En El Arte Japonés” in La Investigación sobre Asia Pacífico en España, no. 1, Granada University, 2006, p. 2.

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  • 29

    Michel Melot, The Impressionist Print (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996).

  • 30

    Jon Thompson, Fiction, Crime, and Empire: Clues to Modernity and Postmodernism (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1993), p. 24.

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  • 35

    Kristin Ross, The Emergence of Social Space: Rimbaud and the Paris Commune (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1989), pp. ix-x.

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  • 37

    Katie Scott, “Playing Games with Otherness: Watteau’s Chinese Cabinet at the Chateau de la Muette” in Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 2003, p. 198.

    • Search Google Scholar
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  • 38

    Simon Wortham, Gary Hall, ed., Experimenting: Essays with Samuel Weber (New York: Fordham University Press, 2007), p. 10.

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