It is the second half of the nineteenth century in France, and you are purchasing plates, dishes, or bowls made by Joseph-Théodore Deck (1823-1891), a renowned ceramist.  What might those French wares look like?  Well, some would look Iznik-ish, others Kutani-ish.  There would be Persian-ish ones and some that look Italian maiolica-ish or Hispano-Moresque.  You could also be holding works that were inspired by Saint-Porchaire ware or by Chinese porcelain.


The Alsatian Joseph-Théodore Deck had worked in Vienna, Strasbourg, among other cities, before going to Paris in 1847 and then again in 1851 for a longer stay, during which he opened an atelier that was on boulevard Saint-Jacques in 1856 but moved to the passage des Favorites (rue des Favorites) two years later.  He also had a store for selling his creations on rue Halévy.  By 1861 he had developed a distinct turquoise that became known as bleu de Deck.  He saw beauty in a wide range of designs that he studied and experimented with, adding his own vision to them along the way.  His work was exhibited at the 1855 Exposition universelle (winning a medal), at the 1861 Exposition des produits de l’industrie in Paris (winning a silver medal), at the 1862 International Exhibition in London (winning a medal), at the 1864 Exposition des arts industriels (winning a médaille d’or de l’Impératrice), at the 1865 Exposition des Beaux-Arts appliqués à l’industrie (winning a médaille d’honneur), at the 1878 Exposition universelle in Paris (winning the grand prix), and at the 1879 one in Mulhouse.  In 1878 he was made an Officier de la Légion d’honneur.  In 1887 he became director of the Manufacture nationale de Sèvres.  His wares attracted buyers not only in France but also from England and America.


Joseph Théodore Deck (1823-1891). Plate in “Turkish” Style. Circa 1860. Earthenware with enamel decoration. The Walters Art Museum. →



Joseph Théodore Deck (1823-1891). Dish. Circa 1870. Earthenware with underglaze and enamel polychrome decoration (“Persian” faience). The Metropolitan Museum of Art. →



Joseph Théodore Deck (1823-1891). Large Plate. Circa 1875. Faience, design “derived from Japanese 17th-century Kutani ware.” The Walters Art Museum. →



Joseph Théodore Deck (1823-1891). Dish. 1878. Glazed earthenware with painted decoration, “a close copy of Japanese Kutani wares of the 1600s and 1800s.” The Victoria and Albert Museum. →






References & Suggested Reading



Buffet-Challié, Laurence. The Art Nouveau Style. Translated by Geoffrey Williams. New York: Rizzoli, 1982.


“DECK (Joseph-Théodore).” Nouveau Larousse illustré : dictionnaire universel encyclopédique, tome troisième. Larousse, 1898, p.556.


– – – . Annuaire des notables commerçants de la ville de Paris : contenant leurs noms et adresses. Paris: J. Techener, 1867.


“DECK Joseph Théodore.” La Fédération des Sociétés d’Histoire et d’Archéologie d’Alsace, 1986.


Deck, Joseph Théodore. Charger. Circa 1875, The Detroit Institute of Arts.


– – – . Dish. 1863, The Philadelphia Museum of Art.|1


– – – . Dish. 1865, The Victoria and Albert Museum, London.


– – – . Dish. 1866, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.


– – – . Plate. Circa 1878, The Victoria and Albert Museum, London.


– – – . Vase. Circa 1880, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.


– – – . Vase in the form of a mosque lamp. Circa 1870, The Minneapolis Institute of Art.


“DECK Théodore.” Dictionnaire des orientalistes de langue française, Karthala Editions, 2012, p.285.


Deck, Théodore. La Faïence. Paris: Maison Quantin, 1887.


Deck, Théodore, and Albert Anker. Plat à décor assyrien. 1870, Musée d’Orsay, Paris.


Deck, Théodore, and Sophie Schaeppi. Plate “Le petit chaperon rouge.” Circa 1890, Koller International Auctions, 2016.—–5041-THEODORE-DECK-_-SCHAEPPI–TEL-5041_431606.html?RecPos=54


Girodie, André. “Théodore Deck.” La Revue alsacienne illustrée, vol. V. Strasbourg, 1903, pp. 45-60.


“Mort de M. Deck.” Le Rappel [Paris], 17 mai 1891, p.1.


Noël, Denis. “Le journal de Sophie Schaeppi.” Femmes et critique(s) : Lettres, Arts, Cinéma, edited by Muriel Andrin, Presses universitaires de Namur, 2009, pp.95-110.


Pfeffer, Mathieu. “Lumières sur Deck.” Les Dernières Nouvelles d’Alsace, 28 février 2019.


Théodore Deck, ou l’éclat des émaux, 1823-1891 : Centre de la Vieille Charité, 7 juillet-11 septembre 1994. Marseille: Musées de Marseille, 1994.