This is a beautiful example of the quality of enamel paintings produced in the early part of the 20th century by the master enamellers of Limoges. It has been extraordinarily difficult to photograph as the glaze is deep and brilliant and does not photograph well.
Added to that the copper on which the enamelling was done is shaped to the features of the elderly lady and the folds of her hood. It is stunning to look at close up but a nightmare to photograph.
This is an unusaully large enamel as, including the frame, it measures 42 x 36 centimetres while the enamel itself is 25 x 21 centimetres.
Each colour in these Limoges enamels has to be applied separately then fired then on to the next colour. Enamels can take between 16 and 22 firings, a long and laborious process that has to be right first time each time. No wonder they are so sought after.
The frame is unusual for these enamels as it is solid wood.
Pierre Bonnet worked at Limoges capital of the “Arts du Feu” for over twenty years. A former student of the Ecole des Beaux Arts, he was the recipient of many awards including the Meilleur Ouvrier de France. In 1955 he became President of the National Jury in Limoges and was awarded l’Ordre du Merite de l’Artisant Francais. He was considered a Master Enameller of his day.
This stunning enamel was done by Bonnet himself, not simply produced in his atelier. He has signed it on the front but also on the certificate of authentication on the back. It is complete with a rare original of his calling card.
Because I supply water from the Holy Spring at Lourdes I am in Lourdes twice a week. Over the past year a shop there has begun to sell these wonderful Limoges enamels. They have one by Bonnet, not as big and it is a country scene and the price is - 3840 euros.
The beauty of these enamels is that they never age, never fade and are really difficult to damage so they remain perfect throughout the ages.