What we have here is T&V Limoges Art Nouveau "Mucha" style portrait charger. Chargers are elaborately decorated, usually oversized plates used to dress up a formal table setting; they are removed just prior to the meal being served. This charger is 10.5" in diameter and depicts Ozma, the kind and immortal Princess and rightful ruler of Oz, from L. Frank Baum's Land of Oz series. The back of the charger has a green T&V logo and is signed "To Kate from KC Brown Xmas 1905"; it is also signed on the front. The charger has a textured brown border, a row of blue and green tassels and finials against a pale pink background, and a dramatic side view portrait of the princess, framed by a gold border, in the center. The charger is detailed both with enamelling and hand-painting.
If a picture can tell a thousand words, then L. Frank Baum would have been most pleased with KC Brown's handiwork on this charger! According to Baum's description of Ozma in The Marvellous Land of Oz (published on July 5, 1904): "Her eyes sparkled as two diamonds, and her lips were tinted like a tourmaline. All adown her back floated tresses of ruddy gold, with a slender jeweled circlet confining them at the brow." Ozma of Oz, pictured here on the left, was published on July 29, 1907, and was the third book in the Oz series.
In addition to the charger's subject matter, it also has a very interesting background. It is made by T&V Limoges, which stands for Tressemanes & Vogt. This company had offices in New York City and Limoges, France and manufactured and imported high quality whiteware for export to the USA through the late 19-teens. The company is still doing business today under the name Reynaud Porcelain. In addition, the plate is described as being in the "Mucha" style. Mucha refers to Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939), a Czech painter and artist, who was very influential in creating the early 20th century "Art Nouveau" style. You can see a portrait of Mucha from 1906 here on the left. Typical features of Mucha's work, usually done in pastel colors, included beautiful young women in flowing robes, often surrounded by lush flowers which sometimes formed halos behind their heads.
As for the closing credits for this wonderful tale, I would like to thank David Weidner and Jared Cilley of Dark Flowers Antiques for sharing this remarkable charger with us. Dark Flowers Antiques specializes in Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and Arts and Crafts Porcelain and Pottery, mainly pieces of European origin sent to North America as blanks and painted in the US and Canada. The store's criteria? The owners will not buy or sell anything they would not mind keeping themselves. David and Jared are regular dealers at New England Antique Shows throughout the year and sell online at http://www.rubylane.com/shops/darkflowers. Contact them at email@example.com if you are interested in the charger featured in this column.
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