This set of four antique French ironstone plates have lovely brown transfers of marguerites, a flower also known as the Paris daisy. Manufactured for the Grand Dépôt, an upscale boutique founded in 1862 by Emile Bourgeois (1832-1926) on the rue Drouot in Paris, the plates were probably made in England. Bourgeois spent several years in England and, after he arranged trade agreements, became the main representative of British ceramics in France. Booth's of Tunstall was one of the earthenware manufacturers who supplied The Grand Depot. Two of the many signs on the front of the huge store even advertised "English Iron Stone" and "Fayences de Fer du Staffordshire" (Ironstone from Staffordshire).
Eventually, the Grand Dépôt grew to be the largest shop for tablewares in the world and Bourgeois opened a branch in Marseille. The backstamp on the reverse of the plates reads top to bottom:
Déposé (Registered by) Grand Dépôt de Porcelaines & Faience (The Grand Depot of Porcelains and Faience) 21 Rue Drouot Paris (their address) Succursale (Branch) 33 Rue St. Ferreol Marseille (address) TERRE DE FER ( iron earth, or as we call it, ironstone) MARGUERITE (pattern name)
The arrangement of the brown transfers on the off-white background follows the fashions of both the Aesthetic Movement, a rejection of overly ornate and fussy designs, and Japonisme, a French-coined term describing the craze for anything Japanese. Both of these terms came into use in the late nineteenth century, when these plates were made.
They each measure 9 1/2 inches across, with the well 6 1/2 inches wide, and each weighs about 1 1/4 pounds. Notice that two of the plates have a slightly lighter background color than the other two. This is far more noticeable in our photographs than in person, due our studio lighting. They are all in excellent condition, with extremely fine crazing that is not stained or particularly noticeable. Two of the plates each have one tiny chip on the back edge, while the other two are chip-free. There are no cracks, hairlines or flea bites and the transfers are strong and unfaded. Ironstone from this French source is hard to come by so four matching plates are a nice find.