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Art Nouveau Émaux ombrants Tile

• Condition: Perfect
• Price: £240 (approx $298)
• Stock number: 02069C

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Style: Art Nouveau
• Technique: Émaux ombrants
Maker: T & R Boote
Dimensions: 6" x 6"
Date: 1905 (circa)


A fabulous Art Nouveau tile, a slender, elegant and inviting design in a most singular shade of blue. A magical colour, not a cold turquoise but having a touch of warmth - very slightly mauvy, the glaze being very highly translucent showing the tile's moulding off to its best with true émaux ombrants graduation in tone. Turquoise was a difficult colour to produce especially in brilliant trasnlucent glaze, most turquoises especially those from Corn, Boote and even Mintons were opaque.

A couple of knowledgable collectors have said to me they have a turquoise example of this design and question the price, well all the other examples I have seen are an opaque turquoise, a much easier to manufacture glaze and considerably cheaper and a vastly inferior viewing experience.

A low relief tile, although strictly speaking the surface of an 'émaux ombrants' tile should be nearer flat it is the superlative glaze on this tile that is the equal of émaux ombrants glazes that make the piece. The colour is extremely rare, and I say that unashamedly because this is the only example of it that I have seen. Not a typical turquoise.

The design is fairly common in translcuent greens and typical opaque turquoise and as such it simply does not compare, they look like different mouldings lacking the crispness and range of hues of this. Plain tile price lists of the time show opaque turquoise at 5/- per dozen and this glaze at 6/- per dozen, a significant difference for the major production cost of tile making, especially plain tiles, was in the biscuit not in the glazing especially the fuel to raise the kiln to the required temperture to fire the clay.

Well moulded in low relief and indented to give a three dimensional effect, note how from one side if the design to the other the shading is graduated giving the appearance that the light comes from the left, the petal and leaves to the right being in shadow. This effect is not some quirk of manufacturing or glaze pooling due to the tile not being level in the kiln, it is a deliberate design feature. With less translucent glazes this subtle yet enriching effect is minimal.

The glaze on this tile is the best from Boote we have ever seen, up to the standard of glazes by Sherwin & Cotton and Marsden. After seeing this design in rather ordinary glazes many times it was an absolute and unexpected joy to find this wonderful example. A tile that the image really does fail to capture the brilliance of.

Sometimes overlooked by collectors some single colour tiles are for sure more appealing than multicolour tiles, this was accepted in the middle of the Edwardian era when art nouveau tiles were at their most popular as some single colour tiles were more expensive than multicolour tiles even from the same manufacturer. The advent of more powerful presses and highly translucent glazes enabled an unsurpassed quality of detail and range of tones in single colour tiles perhaps best expounded by George Cartlidge's 'émaux ombrants' tiles. Without the constraints of the risk of colours bleeding some monochrome tile colours are unique and rarely if ever found on multicolour tiles but this was offset by the need for excellence in manufacture, both pressing and glazing had to be of the highest quality and the tile had to be perfectly level in the glost kiln to achieve optimum results.

Verso near perfectly clean embossed England.


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