The Month of September, the Grape Harvest

Pierre Reymond
Limoges, 1561
Enamel painted on copper, grisaille, gold highlights
Diam. 18 cm
Acquired with the support of Michel and Hélène David-Weill, 2001
Inv. 2001.33.1
© Les Arts Décoratifs

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Plates of this kind were part of the formal tableware that was presented in tiered dressers during banquets, or simply kept in a bedroom or a cabinet of curiosities. The obverse of this plate is decorated with traditional images of the month of September, the harvest month: holding the edge of a vat with both hands, a man tramples grapes, making the juice flow through a pipe into a smaller wooden tub. He is surrounded by three figures: a woman with a basket of grapes on her head; a child holding out a bowl of wine; a man with a wicker basket on his back. A bower in the background gives the scene a remarkable perspective. The marly (the flat border area of the plate) is decorated with gold interlacing; the rim features an auricular decoration formed by four pairs of centaurs holding the handles of a sort of chariot laden with fruit. There are four symmetrically opposed cartouches on the rim of the plate: one contains the Libra symbol; another, on the right, contains the date 1561; the third, on the left, contains the monogram “P.R.”; and the fourth, at the bottom, contains the word “SETABRE” (an abbreviation of September). On the back of the plate, in the center, is a profile portrait of an oriental man in a medallion surrounded by scrolls with flowers and a plant-like decoration with gold highlights. On the marly, confronted dragons frame four symmetrical cartouches; those at the top and bottom contain the date; those at the sides contain the monogram “P.R.” and the name of the enameler, “REXMOND.” It was unusual for objects of this kind to be both signed and dated during this period. Grisaille enamels were produced by using a spatula and needle to scrape off a (dry, but not fired) white layer painted over a black ground. The image on this plate was created in opaque white enamel on a thick, translucent layer that looks black. The skin tones were rendered using a mix of iron oxide and lead white. A darker, almost brown red was used for the inscriptions, the wine in the bowl and tub, and some of the ornamentation on the clothing. Gold was used for the tracery, arabesques and other decorative motifs. This plate is part of an incomplete set depicting the twelve months of the year; four of them are held by the Los Angeles County Museum of Arts, and one – the month of February – by the Musée Municipal de l’Évêché in Limoges. Variations on the theme are known through the work of famous enamelers such as Jean de Court and Pierre Courteys.

M. B. Monique Blanc, “Une nouvelle acquisition du musée des Arts Décoratifs de Paris, une assiette en émail peint, 1561, de Pierre Reymond,” Revue du Louvre, no. 5, 2003-5, pp. 42-47.

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