Gres has many qualities in common with porcelain, but it is grey or ash-coloured and not translucent. The material needs less working in order to purify it. As this clay is already fairly hard after being dried in the open air the first firing can be omitted and the ornamenting begun at once. After being painted the objects can be put in the furnace without sagars and may be baked at a temperature of 1,19o°. Throwing salt in the furnace causes an evaporation which brings a glaze on the objects. The colour is then ash-like, or, with a higher temperature, red-brown. The modern ceramist, however, prefers a superior kind of gres, which is more carefully washed, has the colour of ivory, and to which kaolin can be added (French gres kaoline). The painting takes place as with the ordinary gres bef ore the glazing, after which it is baked and is coated with lead glazing. The gres can also be coated with an engobe-like pulp glaze.
In England, at the end of the 18th century, this imitation and rival of porcelain was invented. In the course of the 19th century it obtained a prominent place in ceramic production, especially for domestic use. It consists of a plastic clay, freed as much as possible from iron and white-burning, but with which some quartz and felspar are mixed. Sometimes some kaolin also is added. The washing must be done very carefully. The exact shape is obtained by the moulding of the liquefied clay. Both during the first and second firing the objects are placed in sagars. Between the two firings the painting and the glazing take place. The ornamenting can also be done by coating the whole object with a pulp glaze.
This is the name of a kind of porous pottery which after the drying and firing is coated with a tin glazing, either by immersion or squirting. On this non-transparent coating decora tion is painted with dyes consisting of metallic oxides—a work that requires great skill, as retouching is impossible. During the process of baking the colours mix with the glaze. The effect is sometimes improved by coating the colours with a second glaze, this time a transparent lead glaze. So-called lustres can also be obtained by means of metallic reductions.
Pottery is the earliest ceramic production of man kind. For this a slightly calcareous potter's clay is used, which when baked becomes a red or yellow shard that still has to be glazed to render it water-tight. Decoration can be done in dif ferent ways—for instance by putting on ornaments of clay in a different colour (barbotine decor), or by painting them. The whole object can also be coated with another kind of clay and the decor in the original reproduced by scratching away the outer coating. It can also be engraved (graffite decor). In all these cases a transparent lead glaze is applied. By a combination of the dif ferent techniques all kinds of variety are possible and usual.
Interest in this fine old handicraft was revived in the period beginning with the Great Exhibition in Lon don in 1851. Museums of industrial art were opened, and applied art schools followed the lead, by the imitation of old models. Imi
tation led to a revival and improvement of old techniques and this was fostered by chemical science which in these years grew more and more important. People grew tired of imitation, how ever, and inspiration was sought elsewhere. It was found in the closer acquaintance with Japanese ceramic art at the Paris ex hibition in 1867 and more especially in that of 1878. This inspira tion took effect in two directions. First, it showed the possibility of another attitude towards nature and the reproduction of nature, and so pointed out a new way to porcelain; a new way to which Denmark was to lead a few years later. Secondly, it demonstrated the splendid ceramic qualities of the old Japanese gres. From this originated the new ceramic art of the French. This is the starting point of the history of modern ceramics.
The revival of French ceramic art was initiated by Ernest Chaplet, who was born at Sevres in 1835 and whose work became world famous 20 years before Jean Carries, the sculptor, be came a ceramist, under the influence of the exhibition of 1878. Chaplet entered the Sevres factory in 1848, and at the exhibition of 1855 he produced work of his own. Afterwards he worked at Laurin's at Bourg la Reine, where he reapplied the old barbotine technique. For it he used very white earth mixed with colour oxides, which he painted on ordinary potter's earth. The success he had with this at the exhibition of 1878 did not last. In 1875 he became manager of the ceramic factory of Haviland in Paris, which factory he took over in 1885, and in 1887 he went to Choisy le-Roi, where he lived and worked until his death in 19°9. His great merit is the application of "flammes"—colour glazes without real figure ornamentation that cover his gres and sometimes his porcelain, copper-red, white, violet and blue in all varieties and combinations. First Japanese gres, and later the monochromatic Chinese porcelains inspired him, but his own work retains an inde pendent quality. His trade mark is the rosary (chapelet). By the time that Chaplet reached the high-water mark of his fame Carries had already achieved success. Jean Carries was born in 1855. As a sculptor, with strong leanings to the decorative, he sought for picturesque effects. Deeply influenced by the charm of the Japanese work exhibited in 1878, he decided to devote himself to ceramic art, and to use gres as his material. Far from Paris, in St. Amand-en-Puisaye and Montriveau, in the neighbour hood of Nevers, where he found his material, he began to experi ment in a furnace of his own, and in the exhibition of 1889 he showed the results which won universal admiration. The Japanese influence is strong, especially in his vases and bowls that are orna mented with streaming glazes. But his work has a character of its own, and he avoids what he considers the too great brightness of the Japanese glazes, and so obtains a better harmony between the colours of the glazes and the clay.