In France, where wine has been a traditional part of lunches and dinners, it was not unusual to serve table wine casually, decanted into a ceramic wine pitcher. French table wine, though delicious, is a bit lighter, of lower alcohol content, and not expensive (making it perfect for lunchtime or afternoon consumption). The size of the jug might be large or small—depending on the number of guests at table. Such wine pitchers might be found in either private homes or in taverns. Shown above, a small wine pitcher which might hold a couple of modest servings (or if planning ahead, provide a couple of top-offs). Using a pitcher not only allowed the wine to "breathe," it also added a touch of style and color to the repast. The pitcher also allowed the diner quick access to his refill—avoiding the need to flag-down the waiter.
The wine jug, shown above, was made in Art Nouveau France by Charles Gréber (1853-1935). The Grébers were a family of ceramics-makers, originally from Austria. They settled in Beauvais, France, a town about 60 miles north of Paris. This region had been long-known to provide durable stoneware clays. The Gréber sons inherited the family pottery workshop from their father, Johann Peter, who died in 1898. Brothers Paul and Edouard went their separate ways and Charles continued to run the company himself. He was much affected by the prevailing Art Nouveau movement—as one can see in the piece shown above. Later, Charles embraced the Art Deco movement. Charles handed-over the family pottery to his nephew, Pierre Gréber, in 1933. Pierre ran the company until it closed in 1961.
While one could certainly use this little jug to serve wine, I would probably keep it safely-displayed within my antiques blue ceramics collection—or use it occasionally (and carefully) to display a small bouquet of flowers. But it could happily return to service, should one want to imbibe in the Old French manner. Click on the photo above to learn more about this handsome Art Nouveau wine pitcher.
Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well! Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com).
We also can be found in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (www.antiquecenterofstrabane.com).
Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only). 917-446-4248