"Oceania" Vase (Primary Title)

René Buthaud, French, 1886 - 1986 (Artist)

ca. 1931
Glazed and enameled stoneware
Overall: 17 × 10 3/8 in. dia. (43.18 × 26.35 cm)

René Buthaud is considered the most prominent French Art Deco ceramist of the 1920s and 1930s. He was appointed a jury member of the celebrated 1925 Paris Exposition, and in 1931 he was made professor of decoration at the School of Fine Arts in Bordeaux.


Like many Art Deco designers, Buthaud was an artist of eclectic taste who sought inspiration from contemporary art as well as African and Oceanic art. Buthaud’s interest in nonwestern culture, which was shared by Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, and other European artists of the early 20th century, is evident in the figure depicted here. As Buthaud was an avid collector of Oceanic and African art, the carved wood statue on which the young woman rests may have been part of the artist’s personal collection.


Buthaud’s “Oceania” vase and his “Africa” vase (now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art) were almost certainly displayed in the Metropolitan Palace at the Colonial Exposition held in Paris in 1931, the last international world’s fair exclusively devoted to the celebration of international colonialism. After the exposition closed in November 1931, both vases were displayed in the Exhibition of Contemporary French Artists at the Galerie Rouard in Paris.

Inscribed mongram (under base): RB
Sydney and Frances Lewis Endowment Fund
Displayed at the Metropolitan Pavilion, Colonial Exposition, Paris, 1931 (May 6 - Nov 15);

XVth Exposition des "Artisans Francais Contemporains," Galerie Rouard, Paris, Nov. 1931;

Shifman, Barry. Arts & Crafts, Art Nouveau, Art Deco: Selections from the Sydney and Frances Lewis Decorative Arts Galleries at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Richmond, VA: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 2015. p. 142-3;

"Africa" vase (now Metropolitan Museum of Art),in G.J. Gros, "Le groupe des artisans francais contemporains," Mobilier et Decoration, June 1931 (no. 2), p. 554, exhibited at Galerie Rouard, Paris;

Ceramiques de Rene Buthaud, Musee des Arts Decoratifs, Bordeaux, pp. 110-111, no. 57 ("Africa" vase);

Pierre Cruege and Anne Lajoix, Rene Buthaud, Paris, 1996, p. 152 (Africa vase);

forthcoming article about the "Oceania" and "Africa" vases to be published by Romain Lefebvre in an issue of La Revue de Ceramiques, Sevres;

Antiques, May/June 2011, p. 86;

Decorative Arts Society Newsletter, vol. 19, no. 2, Fall-Winter 2011, p. 11;

©artist or artist’s estate

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