Shell Décor (décor à coquille)


Bouillard Cup and Saucer with Shell Décor (gobelet Bouillard et soucoupe décor à coquille), n.d., slide 38

This unusual decoration, termed either décor à coquille (shell décor) or à coquilles à ornement (with shell décor and ornaments) is seen in a striking example on the “Bouillard Cup and Saucer with Shell Décor” (gobelet Bouillard et soucoupe décor à coquille, n.d., slide 38). The turquoise ground color shades dramatically into a feathery dark blue, which then becomes a scalloped shell pattern edged in thick gilding. Rosalind Savill describes a piece in the Wallace Collection (dated 1765) with identical decoration: above the “undulating pattern of scalloped shells” are “white spandrels” filled with horizontal gilded lines (Savill 1988, 2:537). Fritzsche notes that “for a long time this extraordinary type of decoration was considered a twentieth century Art Nouveau fake” (2018).

In her description of décor à coquille, Savill mentions this particular object in the Fritzsche collection as an example (1988, 2:537 no. C362, 2:543n38), noting that it bears the mark for Charles Louis Méreaud jeune (the younger; ca. 1735–80; active 1756–80). Méreaud “may be responsible for all examples” of this décor (Savill 1988, 2:537). Read more about Méreaud jeune here. Read about Bouillard cups here.  

References: Savill 1988, 2:537, 2:543n38, 3:1047–48; Fritzsche 2018.