January 12, 2022


Exceptional Wall Mounted Twin Cup Spoon Holder or “Porte-Cuillers” or “Cuillerees”.

A fine, rare and graphic example of French “Art Populaire” pottery from Provence, decorated with stylised “Cigales” or Cicadas. These insects are the traditional symbolic motif of the Provence region in the South of France and are considered as good luck charms.

They are believed to represent hope and to symbolise personal change, renewal, re-birth and transformation because the insects themselves develop from an ugly nymph form into the flying insects that sing and chatter loudly in the warmth of the summer sun.   

Ancient myth also has it that they were sent by God to rouse workers and peasant farmers from slumbering siestas to avoid them becoming lazy!

Fine quality wall mounted pottery spoon holders of this type were often given as love tokens or wedding gifts, more for show than practicality, and were invariably hung in kitchens or parlours displaying shiny pewter, brass and sometimes silver spoons.

Fashioned from local red earthenware, glazed with a terracotta slip ground and a repeat pattern of the Cicadas in four different slip colours, this piece is fashioned in a most unusual circular form. It is these features, along with the twin cups or “pockets”, that make this such an unusual and significant example. 

There is something contemporary, even avant-garde, about the repeat pattern and bright palette of this early twentieth century piece and there is also a sophisticated quality about the potting, exemplified by the detailed moulding to the rim of the pockets, the flat thin circular back and the precise placing of the slip glazed Cicadas themselves.  

This piece comes from an English Private Collection and is illustrated and described in Robert Young, “Folk Art”, (Pub. Mitchell Beazley 1999), Page 129.

Examples of a similar form are shown and discussed in Andre Desvallees and Georges Riviere’s publication “Arts Populaires des Pays de France” (Page 72) and in P M Favelac “Potteries Rustiques”, Pages 58 and 59.




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