Couleurs, Essais et Diagrammes

Recently we were tasked with digitising a number of pages from two 19th century recipe books, both in the hand of Art Director Léon Arnoux. Although both are written in French we decided to digitise them both in their entirety and add them to our growing page-by-page themed search anyway – time to brush up on your French!

There are a wide range of colour and body recipes listed in the index pages of SD 1705/MS1430, from Fondant de Carmin and Verts de Sèvres to Ironstone china and Setters clay, but there are also notes on firing trials and vitrification along with diagrams and sketches, some of which we’ve highlighted below. Our modern eyes were also somewhat thrown by the regular appearance of the word “émail” – especially as it is often written without the acute accent – though of course in this instance it relates to the many enamel recipes found in the volume!

Though SD 1705/MS1428 is also listed as a recipe book it has a distinctly different feel to the previous volume, beginning with a detailed account of what would later be known as the Minton Patent Oven, complete with measurements of major components such as the carneaux (flues), cheminée (chimney), and both bouche (mouth) and porte (door) of the alandier (fireplace*). Amongst the recipes for Emaux opaque and Pâte Photographique are recorded the results of various trials – “Essais de Porcelaine avec les materiaux anglais | Porcelain trails with English materials” – and observations – “3eme fournée de Porcelaine: Procès verbal | 3rd batch of Porcelain: Minutes” – but alas our French falls far short of being able to translate these wonderful essays in any real detail (we’ve already butchered them enough with some heavy use of Google Translate!).

Thankfully the sketches and diagrams we mentioned previously are a joy to behold even if your French peaks somewhere around “J’habite à La Rochelle”. In the gallery below we’ve brought together a selection of sketches from the two volumes – you can also browse through both documents in their entirety via our Page-by-Page catalogue search, should your language skills be up to the challenge. Enjoy, and à bientôt!


* The best definition we could find (in French, translated via Google) reads “Fireplace placed at the base of an oven and used to produce the heat necessary for cooking ceramics”