Daily Pleasures: French Ceramics from the MaryLou Boone Collection
This exhibition features more than 130 pieces from the finest collection of French faience and soft-paste porcelain on the West Coast. The ideal fusion of the useful and the beautiful found in these French ceramics is the essence of what inspired MaryLou Boone to assemble her outstanding collection from the foremost manufactories of the 17th and 18th centuries.
Originally made to emulate Asian hard-paste porcelain imported into Europe, faience and soft-paste porcelain ultimately became distinctive and sought-after ceramics in their own right. The collection includes wares for dining and taking tea, for storing toiletries, and for preparing mixtures that comforted in time of sickness. These objects emphasize myriad aesthetic influences, chronicle advances in technology, and reflect the rhythms of domestic life, providing a unique view of French customs and culture.
The exhibition and catalogue bring together MaryLou Boone’s discerning acquisitions and recognize a substantial gift to LACMA, where Mrs. Boone’s late husband, Dr. George Boone served as a trustee, and The Huntington Library, Art collection and Botanical Gardens, where Mrs. Boone served as a trustee. In 2010, MaryLou gave approximately twenty-five pieces from her collection to both LACMA and the Huntington.
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Image: Ewer, c. 1700, Rouen, France, Earthenware with tin glaze and enamel (grand feu faïence), 11 x 11 in. (27.94 x 27.94 cm), The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Gift of MaryLou and George Boone in honor of the museum’s twenty-fifth anniversary, M.2010.51.1, Photo © Susan Einstein.
Although it can be vigorously debated at what point an object transcends a mere utilitarian purpose to achieve recognition as a work of art, decorative arts—aesthetically appealing pieces capable of bringing significant pleasure to daily activities—can successfully satisfy both criteria. Myriad vessels and wares serve practical needs, yet a dinner service displaying a coat of arms also proudly conveys a family’s heritage, a chinoiserie cup and saucer can transport the imagination of the imbiber to foreign ports teeming with exotic goods, and a mustard pot decorated with a cadre of frolicking monkeys can delight diners...
When I recently visited the exhibition Daily Pleasures, I was delighted to see a resonance between the French ceramics and several Chinese porcelains in LACMA’s permanent collection. It is perhaps not a surprise that porcelain is sometimes informally referred to as “china” or “fine china,” as it was from China that the technique of porcelain making was first introduced to Europe..