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The display offers a presentation of Tournai porcelain and earthenware, arranged by subject and following the chronological order of production as closely as possible.
Display cabinets 1 and 2 contain two prestigious dinner services decorated with Buffon's birds ("Aux oiseaux de Buffon"); one, ordered in 1787, belonged to the Duke of Orleans, while the other, the Le Cocq set, was made at the beginning of the nineteenth century, between 1815 and 1825.
Display cabinets 3 to 7 show the early days of porcelain manufacturing, the Intermediate Period (1751-1762), decorated with the five so-called "pré-mouche" (pre-fly) bouquets in blue and manganese (3), and polychromatic flower decorations (4). It is from these first decorations (3), along with other motifs inspired by the Far East (6), that Tournai draws its two emblematic designs, the Ronda and the fly (5). Display cabinet 7 holds identical copies of China pieces. This production, whose purpose was to replace pieces in Chinese porcelain services, began when the factory first opened and went on throughout the nineteenth century.
Display cabinets 8 to 12 illustrate the Late Period (1763-1775), during which Duvivier, arrived on the scene as lead painter. Trained in Chelsea in England, he introduced designs of landscapes in shades of purple or polychrome (9) as well as imaginary birds (11). Alongside this, the Tournai factory also produced amatory scenes and floral designs (10). The Louis XV style was in fashion, with its abundance of rococo and gold highlights. Blue and gold decorations appeared, such as "à la grecque" (Greek style) designs and Count of Cobenzl's butterfly service in 1765 (8). The Tournai factory first chose a gold tower as its brand icon, and later changed to crossed swords embellished with small crosses. Tournai also produced a few Oriental scenes in shades of green, inspired by Meissen (8), and released very elegant white and gold services whose gold bouquets are executed in finely chiseled layers (12). While one plate bears the date 1774 on the back, these productions continued over the next period, the Third Period.
Display cabinets 13 to 16 show creations from the Third Period and the beginning of the nineteenth century. The Third Period is generally held to be the last quarter of the eighteenth century, but it remains very difficult to date certain productions to the end of the eighteenth or beginning of the nineteenth century, especially since the artistic director of the factory, Joseph Mayer, was active from 1775 to 1825. The Louis XVI style dominated this period, with the appearance of decorative motifs such Louis XVI medallions (13), as well as birds or herbaria, respectively copying plates from works on ornithology or botany, sciences that were emerging in those days (14). Tournai also produced cornflower services, Marie-Antoinette's favourite decoration, and continued to produce sets featuring floral motifs, cut fruit, and imaginary birds (15), before trying its hand at ruins, embossing, or antique-style portraits (“têtes à l’antique”), and wood scenes (16).
Since Tournai held the monopoly of porcelain production in the eighteenth century, some factories bought Tournai porcelain and overlaid it with their own designs. Examples of this can be seen in display cabinet 17 for Tervuren and The Hague.
Display cabinets 17 to 19 bring together the many blue decorations the factory has been famous for since the nineteenth century. While Tournai had been inspired by Meissen and had copied sets from Chantilly, it also set its own trends, for example in Arras between 1770 and 1790. In addition to the two famous decorations of the Ronda and the fly, Tournai created numerous garland motifs that adorned the fringes of the pieces and that could also be allied with central motifs, such as monograms or corporate coats of arms. These garlands feature classic designs such as the ring, flowered ring, flowered laurel, corn ear (formerly laurel), rosemary, double rosemary, à la Grecque, caterpillar, acorn motifs, upright or reclining pansies, sowing flowers, passionflower, blue lace, Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette garlands, etc.
Display cabinets 20 and 21 round off the overview of Tournai's nineteenth-century ceramic productions, represented through the legacy left by Dasselborne, one of the factory's directors under the Boch, in the second half of the nineteenth century, and fine earthenware.
Throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Tournai also created sculptural groups that are distributed among some of the display cases and grouped together in display cases 22 and 23.
Finally, display cases 24 and 25 bring together some jewels of Tournai goldsmithery from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries.