Monochrome Blue (camaïeu bleu)


Teapot (théière lizonnée à relief), 1758, slide 23a. Read more about this teapot style and décor here.

Camaïeu is a French term that can be translated as either “cameo decoration” or “monochrome.” It refers to a technique of monochromatic painting, usually with multiple shadings of a single color. Unlike the blue colors such as bleu lapis (lapis-lazuli blue), bleu Fallot (Fallot blue), or bleu céleste (celestial blue), discussed on previous pages, this is not a ground color but a form of decoration found on porcelain with a white ground, as seen in the examples on this page.


Two Bouillard Cups (gobelets Bouillard, 1753, slide 9b)

It was commonly used for painting flowers and birds, and the delicacy of this technique is well exemplified by the side view of the “Bouillard Cups" (gobelets Bouillard, 1753, slide 9b).


Mustard-Pot Tray (plateau de moutardier ordinaire, n.d., slide 14)

Another fine example is on the "Mustard-Pot Tray" (plateau de moutardier ordinaire, n.d., slide 14), which encloses the camaïeu bleu designs in reserves against a rare yellow ground color.


Breakfast Tray in the King’s Style (plateau du déjeuner du roi) and Four Bouillard Cups (gobelets Bouillard), 1753, slide 9a

A subset of this technique was applied to paintings of children in landscapes, as illustrated by the Breakfast Tray in the King’s Style and Four Bouillard Cups” (plateau du déjeuner du roi, gobelets Bouillard, 1753, slide 9a). Savill defines this décor as children painted in "monochrome" with "polychrome flesh colors" (enfants camayeux chaires colorées) (1988, 2:592, 3:1173).

References: Savill 1988, 2:592, 3:1172–73; Eriksen and De Bellaigue 1987, 51.