Methods of Limoges Porcelain Decoration
Limoges art objects and decorative accessories primarily are hand painted or of mixed decor, as described in the earlier section on decorating techniques. The amount of individual work that goes into the decoration of an object usually serves as the criterion of superiority. Differentiating between the several methods of decoration found on Limoges porcelain is necessary, especially for the serious and advanced collector. There is a very wide variation in quality for items decorated in America. Basically Limoges can be rated on the basis of origin and type of decoration, which can be determined by its marks.
Most Desirable Limoges Produced in Paris or Limoges
First, the most desirable pieces are those which have been hand painted in Limoges factories or decorating studios in Limoges or Paris. Examples will have at least two marks, one underglaze and one overglaze. Some pieces may have an artist’s signature or initials on the front of the piece. Sometimes, an artist’s mark or initial will be on the base or the back of the item. The mixtion type of decoration, such as transfers of portraits or cherubs with partial hand painted work, is also included in this first category. But these examples are valued less than the totally hand painted pieces. Many of the more collectible pieces with figural, scenic, and portrait decoration, however, are of this type.
Second in desirability are pieces hand painted by American decorating studios. Examples will have two marks, the underglaze Linioges factory mark and the overglaze American studio mark such as Pickard or Stouffer. Such pieces usually have a studio artist’s signature on the face.
The third category of collectible Limoges is comprised of pieces with Limoges factory transfer designs or patterns. Examples will have at least two marks, the underglaze factory mark and the overglaze decorating mark of the factory or studio.
The fourth category of Limoges consists of items hand- painted by American artists or china painters. Examples will have only one mark, underglaze, denoting the Limoges manufacturing company. Pieces may be signed on the front or on the base. This fourth category is the one which poses the most concern for the discriminating collector. Some of the American hand painted work is clearly of a professional quality and should be considered on the same level, or just below that, of American decorating studios. Many other pieces, however, exhibit obviously amateur workmanship, and these should not be priced in the same range just because they are “hand painted.”
Other Points to Remember When Collecting Limoges Porcelains
A few other points to consider when evaluating Limoges should be noted. Some factories were in production for only a short time, thus examples of their wares, however decorated or even unpainted, may be desirable due to scarcity. Some companies did not export to the United States in quantities as large as others, thus their products are scarce. Certain types of objects appear on the market more than others. Decorative plaques, vases, cachepots, tankards, and fish services are well represented. Whiskey decanters, cuspidors, inkwells, humidors, perfume bottles, baskets, jardinieres, pancake dishes — to name just a few are not so prevalent. The serving or extra pieces to dinner services such as tea and coffee pots, butter pats, butter dishes, and bone dishes, as well as cups for place settings, make these items desirable if needed to complete a set even though the majority are transfer decorated. Certain themes of decoration such as scenic and animal are more scarce than the other themes. Pieces signed by a specific artist, either professional or in some cases nonprofessional, are often in demand. Determining the specific desirability of Limoges porcelain for individual collection and investment comes through study and experience: reading, looking, touching, examining, and deciding what is personally appealing.
The variety of Limoges porcelain available today provides many ideas for collections. Collections can range from the very general to the very specific. A wide selection of decorative pieces manufactured by different Limoges companies, decorated in different styles by different techniques allows one to enjoy and sample a beautiful array of Limoges porcelain. Personal creativity in putting together a collection of Limoges Porcelains for pleasure, investment, or both can be an enjoyable and worthwhile endeavor.
LIMOGES FRANCE HAND PAINTED PHEASANTS IN A ROSE GARDEN HUGE JARDINIERE