Reminiscent of a scene from Jules Verne, this pair of French Art Nouveau “Rocketship” vases was made around 1905 by Antoine Gustave de Bruyn et Fils. “Gustave” (as he was known) was born on 9 December 1838 in Leuven, Belgium. Both his father and grandfather had been potters before him. In 1864, he opened a ceramics workshop across the Belgian border—in the village of Fives-Lille, France. He set to work crafting vases, planters, cache pots, jugs, platters, tobacco jars, and umbrella stands.
In 1889, Gustave de Bruyn et Fils was awarded a medal at the Universal Exhibition in Paris and business continued to prosper. By the turn of the century he had 150 employees, which, by the start of World War I, had grown to 400. The firm made it through the War—then the next one—only to be sold in 1950. The new owners kept things going for another dozen years until the pottery was closed-down in 1962.
The vases above were made around the turn-of-the-century, the heyday of Gustave de Bruyn et Fils. Though definitely French Art Nouveau, one can see a familial resemblance to the movement’s Austrian cousin, Viennese Secessionism.