Barber's basin with birds and vegetal ornament

Accession Number

Barber's basin with birds and vegetal ornament


Artist Nationality
French (culture or style)

Object Creation Date
circa 1750

Medium & Support
tin-glazed earthenware (faience) with yellow and blue underglaze

3 1/16 in. x 15 11/16 in. x 11 in. ( 7.8 cm x 39.9 cm x 28 cm )

Credit Line
The Paul Leroy Grigaut Memorial Collection

Label copy
March 28, 2009
The deep semicircle cut into one side of this barber’s basin allowed it to be held close to a client’s neck while being shaved by the barber. The whimsical, asymmetrical arrangement of the animal and plant motifs around the basin and the combination of yellow, blue, and green are typical of the faience created at the factory established in 1738 by Joseph Olérys in the French town of Moustiers. Located approximately sixty miles north of the southern coastal city of Marseille, Moustiers boasted large deposits of rich clay that made it a center of fine pottery production since the late seventeenth century. Whereas earlier faience in Moustiers was decorated only in blue underglazing, Olérys brought with him knowledge of how to produce yellows and greens that he had learned at the Alcora pottery factory near Valencia, Spain. The popularity of his technical and artistic innovations made his faience the most widely imitated of all Moustiers pottery.

Subject matter
The deep semicircle cut into one side of this barber's basin allowed it to be held close to a client's neck while being shaved by the barber. The style of informal decoration on this plate was developed around 1740 by Joseph Olérys, the owner of a faience factory in Moustiers near Marseilles in southern France.

Physical Description
This oval-shaped ceramic vessel features a wide, steep rim surrounding a large well in the center. The scalloped edges of the rim are cut back into a deep semicircle on one side. The rim is painted in underglaze blue and yellow with plant and floral motifs that are arranged in a whimsical, asymmetrical fashion around the edge. The well is decorated with similar vegetal motifs and two vaguely stork-like birds with long legs that confront one another on a strip of turf.

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type

Collection Area

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basins (vessels)
faience (earthenware)

3 Related Resources

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(Part of 2 Learning Collections)
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Weese Collection and Gallery Rotations: Docent Module
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& Author Notes

Web Use Permitted

On display

UMMA Gallery Location ➜ FFW, Mezzanine ➜ M06 (Shirley Chang Gallery of Chinese Art)