Collections du musée Ariana à Genève
Edited by Anne-Claire Schumacher
Texts by Andreas Heege and Andreas Kistler
Terracotta with glazed slip painting decorations is the most widespread ceramic technique used in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, more especially in the countryside around Bern. The workshops are mostly in the Langnau, Heimberg, Blankenburg and Bäriswil areas.
Painted in bright colours, these popular decorations are done on a light beige or brown-black ground; they are sometimes highlighted with lines engraved in the slip or with a wheel, or alternatively adorned with patterns in relief. The iconography is drawn from popular tradition: in addition to a wide range of floral patterns, we find characters in traditional costume, animals relating to heraldry or hunting, coats of arms and genre scenes. Religious or poetic quotations may enliven the composition, or perhaps details of the circumstances and date of manufacture or the recipient. The decorations are remarkably diverse, fresh and spontaneous.
In formal terms, in addition to many dishes, sometimes known as plats à rösti, with their characteristic oblique edge, there are round terrine dishes with fancy handles decorated with birds or bears, writing cases, butter churns or wall fountains.
Geneva’s Ariana Museum houses a large collection of nearly 200 pieces of Swiss pottery; this catalogue, written by specialists in the field, offers an inventory of this often unfamiliar production.
Anne-Claire Schumacher is a curator at the Musée Ariana in Geneva and the author of several articles and publications associated with the museum, including another book published by 5 Continents Editions, La Manufacture de porcelaine de Langenthal, entre design industriel et vaisselle du dimanche, Milan, 2012.
Andreas Heege, born in 1957, holds an arts Master’s degree and Doctorate in archaeology of the Middle Ages and recent periods from Cologne and Göttingen Universities. An assistant lecturer at Göttingen University and municipal archaeologist at Einbeck in Lower Saxony, he is scientific officer for the cantons of Aargau, Bern and the principality of Lichtenstein. As a freelance archaeologist specializing in ceramics and stove tiles, Andreas Heege is the author of various publications devoted to the cantons of Bern, Schaffhausen and Zurich.
Andreas Kistler, born in 1943 at Bäriswil (Switzerland), studied biology (Doctorate in 1973; Scientific research until 1998). He has carried out historical-genealogical research into the pottery of Bäriswil and Langnau and the potters of Bern.