The frame seemed just a little "too extra" for the drab scene found within. The work is called, "Plaque depicting Bernard Palissy", the wall text reads –
This framed Sèvres plaque is one of the most ambitious and original works of art produced in the Renaissance Revival style of mid-nineteenth-century France. Both the plaque and the elaborate frame pay homage to the flourishing of the decorative arts that took place during the French Renaissance. The scene on the plaque, by Nicolas-Marie Moriot after a painting by Charles Alexandre Debacq (1804-1853), portrays Bernard Palissy, the only Renaissance potter whose name was known in the nineteenth century, burning the furniture in his house to fire his kiln. The oval enamel-on-copper plaques that decorate the frame depict events from Palissy's life, and their grisaille decoration evokes Limoges enamels of the sixteenth century. The plaques were painted by Jacob Meyer-Heine, who was named head of the recently established enamel workshop at Sèvres in 1840. The dragons entwined with strapwork on the gilt-bronze frame by Armande Feuchère are drawn from the architectural vocabulary of the French Renaissance, and the biscuit porcelain figures modeled by Jean-Baptiste-Jules Klagman (1810-1867) recall the stucco decoration of the Galerie François I at Fontainebleau, the supreme example of Renaissance art in France. The designs and molds for this plaque are preserved at the Sèvres manufactory.
So this is a picture of some dude burning the stuff in his house to fire his kiln.. lol... Housed in the most garish frame I have ever seen, this tragic act (in the greek sense) becomes a celebration. A celebration of the paradox of art. Lets take a step back, so the bro in the painting who is burning his stuff is named Bernard Palissy; a potter working in France in the mid/late 1500's, a dude who once was at a rich persons house and saw a piece of porcelain from China and like totally flipped out over the glaze.. in turn he spent like 10 years trying to replicate the glaze, failed, became poor, and alas burned all his shit for this fruitless pursuit. So eventually his wife was probably like "hey listen man, u have got to make some fucking money this is getting out of hand".. so he switches gears, dispels the dream of recreating what must have been totally otherworldly, alien aesthetic from a magical foreign land (China). He does a 360˚ turn and creates a style which he is now known for, "Palissy Wear" or "Rustique Wear", which looks like this –
Basically this style features taking dead lizards and fish and other organic stuff and pressing it into a ceramic. Anyways, this style took off. Rich French folks in the late 1500's flipped out, lost their shit, loved it. This MUST have created a major inner conflict for Palissy. Here was a guy who wanted to recreate the pristine, metallic quality found in probably whats known as a "Celadon" glaze, widely practiced during the Song Dynasty.
Failed, then got famous for creating faux rustic art. This paradox is something that I find often being acted out in art. In short, people want what they cant have – The artist was captivated by the rich persons global trade trappings, and the rich person was captivated by the "realness" expressed by the artists "rustic style".
Ok so back to the actual work at hand, this celebration of Palissy housed in this ridiculous frame. The frame is garish in a Ed Hardy sort of way, as opposed to a Louis XIV kind of way. Its a pastiche of many styles.. check it out –
Created right before the advent of Art Nouveau, the frame's ceramics are true to styles that were coming out of the Sèvres region in France at the time. This is the only frame I can find originating from Porcelain artisans. The frame has Dragons on it, depictions of rich people making deals and busts of Noblemen overlooking the incredibly stylistically contrary scene of Pallisy burning his shit. The work itself was made by 6 different dudes!
My immediate reaction when i saw the work was "Ed Hardy" –
The contrast between the style of the painting and its frame further expresses the same paradox found within the scene it depicts.. Like how rich people want Basquiat and are thrilled by the unadulterated purity/reality found within abstraction. This stratification of taste, where poor people cant recognize "good art" ("my kid could draw that") and rich people look for art that is exceptionally raw is something that I think is somewhat new.
"Plaque depicting Bernard Palissy" is a good early example of what a "Globalized Aesthetic" looks like and it also great because it depicts the hilarious space where art lies – art is not the object itself, but the glimmer of hope that it may bring understanding with it.