Discocer the golden age of Mettlach Ceramic


Cameo to Phanolith

Kamee to Phanolith GroupA major problem for the artist Jean-Baptiste Stahl in his relief work was the lack of details. What use the fine elaboration of the models, if after the fire of the articles these were no longer recognizable.

So he worked tirelessly for a long time to improve the mass used for his models. Around the middle of 1898 , a porcelain-like substance could be produced that fulfilled its requirements.

With this new mass, it was possible to create very thin decors for his objects, which allowed on a colored background an unprecedented depth effect. A complex play between light and shadow could now be realized by the different thicknesses of the relief. 

Jean-Baptiste Stahl perfected this process and it was the basis for his later success.

The left vertical row of pictures on this page shows the development from relief decoration via cameo to Phanolith.

The first pitchers made in Mettlach were modeled in bas-relief style, generally " relief ". The decor usually consisted of brown and green leaves and leaf tendrils (see picture 1 ) on light brown or brown background.

In the course of time (about 1880 ), the motives changed and they changed to more decortical relief representations such as figures (see Figure 2 ). The reliefs themselves were elaborated more filigree and applied the masses already much thinner.

The transition to cameo products, whose motifs did not raise so far from the corpus in comparison to relief objects, was initiated (see Figure 3 ).

Cameos already use a more translucent, porcelain-like material, which allows the shades of the primary colors to show through in particularly thinly applied areas of the relief.

In the rural scene on picture 4 , Jean-Baptiste Stahl already tried to model a certain three-dimensionality. Because of the darker color, for example - the dog, the dead rabbit and the person with the pole - appear in the background. The dog is presented in such detail that one could definitely determine the breed. At the neck of the pictured woman the transprarence was used to represent shadows.

The ease and calmness in which the 3 persons interact is remarkable, reminiscent of the calmness by drawing of Jean-Baptiste Stahl. The whole scene is very confidential. The depicted clothing bring the scene into a historical context.

Picture 5 shows the artist's work in its perfection (rectangular picture scene from the " flying Dutchman " with the form number # 7046 ). It is again a significant increase in the translucency of the motifs by the improvement of the porcelain-like mass, which was called in Mettlach with the name "Phanolith" . Now real three-dimensional impressions were possible and one had the feeling that the light shines from a certain point on the represented scene. Like a painter, Jean-Baptiste Stahl uses the white porcelain to express light, shadow, depth and plasticity.

All mold numbers starting with the number #7 are to be regarded as real Phanolith products and are also the highlight of the development of this manufactoring technique.

Phanolith models were at that time about twice as expensive as cameo objects (with mold numbers # 2xxx or # 3xxx) ). At the Paris World's Fair in 1900 , Jean-Baptiste Stahl's Phanolith products were the highlight of the presentation at the Villeroy and Boch stand.

The following three plate decors with identical motif ( 2x mold number # 2443 and 1x mold number # 7014 ) once again show very clearly the differences between relief, cameo and phanolith.



phanolith 7014

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