Wednesday, April 25, 2012

La Chapelle des Pots, France - July 3, 2011

La Chapelle des Pots was a potter's village for nearly eight centuries, with the first potters setting up there in 1250. Although the products were limited to modest kitchenware and cooking pottery this was the de facto standard in France and local potters produced decorative objects for the aristocracy and enjoyed robust exports to both Germany, England and elsewhere.
In the course of the 17th century however, Italian ceramics began to appear in France with exquisitely detailed decoration. Some regional manufacturers adopted this new technology, including a factory in La Rochelle in 1721 and gradually the traditional pottery was relegated to utility and cook ware again, as the wealthier buyers switched to the more refined ceramic products.
La Chapelle developed new mass markets for their goods, mainly in the colonies of Canada and Louisiana. In 1763 of course, France lost Canada to England and in 1803 Napoleon sold Louisiana to the United States. These were seminal events for the potters of La Chappelle - their markets vanished and the last pottery in the village stopped all production and closed its doors in 1906.
Population peaked in La Chapelle in 1793 - yes, that's 1793 not 1973 - at 898 and today, some 220 years later, it is 890. From all that we could see, in a hundred years since the cessation of pottery manufacture nothing has been found to replace the lost revenue.
Pictures here.

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