Announcing a new publication on the 18th-century ceramics decorator, Fidelle Duvivier:

Charlotte Jacob-Hanson

In the Footsteps of
Fidelle Duvivier

A career summary with new discoveries of his work for the Sceaux manufactory in France

plus a pictorial Appendix illustrating some of his decoration done in England and the Netherlands

Today, Duvivier’s name and decorative work are still virtually unknown on the Continent, owing to the fact that his career has received little attention outside of England.

This book offers the latest research findings and provides a new chapter to his story, which is why it will be of interest to collectors, museums and auction houses in Britain, France, and the Netherlands, as well as elsewhere in Europe and the United States. In addition, it presents the essential history of the 18th-century French manufactory at Sceaux, one that has been sorely neglected in ceramic literature.

After studying Duvivier’s activity in England, and having subsequently traced his career backwards in time, searching for his work in the Netherlands (at Loosdrecht and for The Hague), the author next concentrated her research efforts in France, where she was able to identify a diverse array of examples showing Duvivier’s decoration on both faience and porcelain (Sceaux and Mennecy).

Detail of a Mennecy saucer showing a bird with cut and whole fruits decorated in polychrome by Fidelle Duvivier, c. 1766-68, while he was employed as a painter at Sceaux. Photo: Nicole Duchon. © Collection communale de Mennecy, France.

Stylistically speaking, it was not difficult to recognize how Duvivier’s charming Dutch landscapes influenced his later work for New Hall and other English manufactories. But it was surprising to see how his earlier work for Sceaux, embodying the pleasing French tastes of the period, even carried over to his first English decorations, and confirmed the suspicion that he had worked at Sceaux – not once, but twice.

In addition to the richly illustrated main section of this publication, there are three appendices:

Le château de Sceaux, steel engraving, 1838, by E. Rouargue after A. Rouargue. Photo courtesy of Marc Dechow, Antique Prints, Maps and Rare Books, Hamburg, Germany.

Appendix A contains a broad selection of photographs of Fidelle Duvivier’s work done in England, France, and the Netherlands. These are compared and discussed by category. This section should be a valuable aid in future attribution work.

Appendix B contains new genealogical findings (a Duvivier family chart, and details of his first daughter’s birth and baptism in Sceaux).

Appendix C includes historical descriptions of the various manufactories and decorating establishments where Duvivier was employed (Tournai, Derby, James Giles’s London atelier, Loosdrecht, The Hague, New Hall). These summaries should be helpful to readers in other countries for whom these names might be unfamiliar. A bibliography is also included.

More details and a Chronology in the Preface...

Important discoveries in this publication:

  1. Fidelle Duvivier worked at Sceaux twice (decorating faience and porcelain) – before and after his first stay in England (c. 1769 – c.1773).
  2. He also decorated blank Mennecy porcelain while working at Sceaux.
  3. There are correlations between his work at Sceaux and some decoration on early Derby, Chelsea-Derby and later on New Hall porcelain.
  4. He was the painter of the Worcester porcelain “Grubbe plate” with the dead game (in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London). This plate has been loosely attributed to him for years, but with no clear proof. The discovered print source is shown and other arguments are made in support of this attribution.
  5. A number of his motifs on Loosdrecht porcelain appear later on New Hall porcelain decorated with related subjects.
  6. Duvivier decorated more porcelain at Loosdrecht than at any other manufactory, including New Hall.

Three birds by Fidelle Duvivier, the first one painted on a Sceaux faience plate, the other two details on a Sceaux porcelain jug and a Sceaux cup. Photos: Millon-Associés, Paris; © The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; © Trustees of the British Museum, London.