In the middle of the great romantic and historical movement which touched the arts and literature following the Monarchie de Juillet, the decorative arts tried to leave aside the neo-classical model and turn towards the Middle Ages and Renaissance period for new sources of inspiration. The inﬂuence of Renaissance art can be seen with Froment-Meurice who used the technique of enamel painted in grisaille on small plates adorning the Duchesse de Parme’s caskets. This new interest in enamels coincided with the opening of an enamel painting on metal workshop within the Manufacture de Sèvres in 1845 which was spurred on by the painters, Paul Delaroche and Alfred Meyer. Alfred Meyer taught the technique of painted enamel, known also as « émail de Limoges » to Claudius Popelin who became the keenest propagator notably through conferences and because of his main written work : The painter’s enamels of 1866. His work can be distinguished by the use of translucent polychrome enamel on small strips of metal, combined with an opaque monochrome The Renaissance of painted enamels of 1866. during the 19th century was mainly due to painters who learnt this special technique in order to perfect an original composition and not to do as 16th century Limousin craftsmen who were inspired essentially by engravings. Other than these original creations the 19th century enamellers used their art in new ways such as plates of enamels in cabinet making in the shape of small paintings inserted into furniture decoration. A completely new utilization like using enamel painting to decorate chiselled and silver coated bronze furniture ornaments was were due to Barbedienne. Painted enamel exists also as another form of art consisting of separate plates : certain works were judged to be worthy to ﬁgure in the « Œuvres d’art » group of the 1867 Exposition Universelle unlike the other enamelling techniques used just for silverware and jewellery. However the use of enamels in these two ﬁelds met with a great success presented in different forms : enamel on a round of gold, cloisonné, champlevé, or cloisonné à jour. Although Limoges style painted enamels were at their peak during the 1867 Exposition Universelle, after this date the Japanese style began to compete with that of the Renaissance. An inﬂuence that was inspired by the nature and research was made on the brilliance of colour and transparency. From 1860’s special research was made on translucent enamels under the direction of Frédéric Charlot de Courey and meeting with more success in 1880 with the work of Alfred Garnier and Paul Grandhomme who interpreted Gustave Moreau’s paintings in enamels. It developed fully during the Art Nouveau period around the 1900’s, due to the sparkling shades and naturalistic colours that it permitted to obtain. At the beginning of the 20th century, the enamel was no longer at the top of the decorative arts and was being replaced by lacquered plates in furniture decoration. However the technique of painted enamels of an immense quality continued until the 1920’s.
THE XIXTH CENTURY ENAMEL REVIVAL AND EVOLUTION