This exceptional basin is inspired by the iconic Mamluk basin known as the Baptistère de saint Louis at the Louvre. Not a direct copy of the piece, it shows a very inventive use of the coloured enamels so particular to the artworks of Eugène-Victor Collinot (1824-89). Supported by its large gilt wooden stand, it is a fine illustration of the taste and fascination for the newly discovered Arab art.
Eugène-Victor Collinot and Adalbert de Beaumont published between 1880 and 1883 a number of designs inspired by Islamic art in Ornements arabes, as part of Recueil de dessins pour l’art et l’industrie. They aimed at emphasizing the importance of Oriental designs in the ‘Industrial arts’ – ceramic and glass in particular – C’est toujours en Orient qu’il faut choisir nos modèles pour l’art décoratif (Rémi Labrusse, Islamophilies, l’Europe modern et les arts de l’Islam, exhibition catalogue. 2011, p.119). Beaumont recorded Islamic works of art available at the time which were published in Recueil, such as the Mamluk ‘Schefer’ glass cup now in the Metropolitan Museum, New York. It conferred these pieces an immediate notoriety and allowed them to be largely copied. The Mamluk glass bottle from the Gustave de Rothschild Collection, also in the Metropolitan Museum, New York served as a source for works by Collinot, Deck, Brocard and a Bohemian manufacturer (Labrusse, op.cit., pp.270-271).
Collinot started producing ceramic pieces from 1863 at 9, rue Royale, Paris. He was famous for the precise technique of his enamelling and exhibited successfully in the Great Exhibitions of 1867 and 1878. A copy of the ‘Schefer’ cup by Collinot, dated circa 1870, is in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris (op.cit., cat.162, p.273) and offers a close comparable to the present basin in its technique and choice of enamels. For a short discussion on Collinot, see Purs Décors, exhibition catalogue, Paris, 2007, p.312.
A related basin in the Mamluk style made by Vieillard & cie, a ceramicist active in Bordeaux in the late 19th century, sold at Sotheby's, Paris, 30 March 2011, lot 128. More recently, another related basin this time by Theodore Deck sold at Christie's South Kensington, 22 April 2016, lot 436.