Ljuba Naumowitch (1898-1955)

Ljuba Naumowitch (1898-1955)

Décor Métaphysique aux Chevaux | 1954 

The Serbian painter and ceramicist, Ljuba Naumowitch, settled in France in the 1920s where he met his future wife and fellow ceramicist, Odette Roche-Gourju. Sadly, the couple were separated when Naumowitch was forced to return to Belgrade to serve in WWII, leaving Roche alone and pregnant. The couple would only be reunited in 1948. The following year, they founded the Atelier du Grand Chêne in Vallauris in the South of France, a region with a rich history of pottery and ceramics dating back to Roman times. They, and other artists active in Vallauris during this period such as Pablo Picasso, would contribute to the Renaissance of French pottery and ceramics in the region.

Both Naumowitch and Roche-Gourju trained as painters at the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs in Paris where they were heavily influenced by the works of Giorgio De Chirico (1888-1978) and Henri Matisse (1869-1964). At Le Grand Chêne, the couple would turn away from utilitarian pottery, bringing an altogether more individualistic and painterly quality to the ceramics produced there, increasingly incorporating designs of fauna, flora and figurative elements into their work.

The design of the featured hollow-bottomed ceramic dish certainly captures the spirit of some of Di Chirico’s equine works and demonstrates Naumowitch’s exceptional handling of line and artistic development at Le Grand Chêne. Accentuated by streaks of white-grey glaze coupled with lightly incised lines criss-crossing and swirling around the figures of five horses, Naumowitch effortlessly captures the turbulent energy of a herd galloping across a dark, dusty plain. The overall design is beautifully offset by the contrast of the light enamel glaze on the black background.

Made in 1954, this dish would be one of the last pieces produced by Naumowitch during his short time at the Atelier du Grand Chêne. Tragically, that same year, he and his wife would lose their lives in a car accident between Nice and Antibes. The Atelier was then taken over by their son, Jacques Innocenti, a ceramicist in his own right.

Whitford Fine Art
Cadogan Square
London, SW1X 0HY
United Kingdom

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