Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Dreaming of a White Christmas

A couple years ago, I started collecting Christmas ornaments by French artist and ceramist Jean-Jacques Prolongeau.  Jean-Jacques was a student of Raoul Dufy and part of the ceramic resurgence in Vallauris, France after World War II, where he collaborated with more well-known artists like Roger Capron.  Their work was both functional and whimsical and derived inspiration from the natural world, contemporary and folk art and even colors and imperfections in the clay.
Siren Cup or Bowl by Jean-Jacques Prolongeau auctioned in 2009

Cube Vase by Roger Capron available at the Sam Kaufman Gallery in Los Angeles
In the 1970s, Haviland Company invited Jean-Jacques to create a series of Christmas ornaments for limited production.  Although Haviland-Limoges dinnerware is often heavily decorated, Jean-Jacques chose to celebrate the stunningly simple and pristine white porcelain with images of angelic children enjoying the season.  The ornaments are as follows:

1971: Dancing Angels
1972: Prancing Horse
1973: Dancing Bells
1974: Caroling Angels
1975: Sparkling Angel
1976: Sleeping Angels
1977: Bountiful Angel
1978: Sledding Angels
1979: Children with Stockings
I first discovered these Christmas decorations at a local consignment shop for $25 a piece.  I was able to slowly assemble complete collections via Ebay, and you can still find good examples there, and on Etsy, usually at reasonable prices.
As I child, I would wait for white Christmases that never materialized.  It almost happened one year; we got snow on December 23 and 70-degree-weather on Christmas Eve.  Even when we travelled north for the holidays, there were only cold temperatures… snow always evaded us.  I don’t need to crave snow anymore.  My vintage Jean-Jacques Prolongeau ornaments always make it a glistening white Christmas.

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