There is, in two museums and private hands, a group of four old Breton spoons. The group consists of two near-identical spoons (Morlaix 2000-12-1-16 and MuCEM 1883-3-10, pictured below) plus one other similar spoon that was sold a year ago to a private collector. In addition, there are pictures of two spoons… one in the book by Leroy & Méheut, “Vieux métiers Bretons” (1992 – this is probably the same as the one that was sold privately), and the other is in a picture called “trois cuillères bretonnes” in the MuCEM museum in Marseilles.
It is probable that they were all made by the same person…
These spoons are in the Cornouaille-style, made around the area of Quimper in S.W. Finistère, and are exquisite in their shape and decoration. All have heart shaped bowls, all have one or more hearts as piercings or cartouches plus a very distinctive up-tipped and scalloped end to the handle.
This first picture is one of the spoons which is in the Museum at Morlaix, in NW Brittany
This is the probably best available example of this particular family of spoons and will hopefully be on exhibit when the museum re-opens after a big renovation project.
Sadly the decorative tip on thi spoon (MuCEM 1883-3-10) has been broken off (picture above), but the catalogue for the Paris 1951 Exhibition pictures it in one piece. (Bretagne Art Populaire. Première Exposition Temporaire 23 juin – 23 septembre 1951, Musée National des Arts et Traditions Populaires – picture below). When I saw this spoon in Marseilles last November the broken piece was not in evidence, but the whole National Collection got decentralized from Paris to Marseilles on 2013 and they are still trying to put all the collections back together…
Very similar to these spoons, but with one large heart cartouche instead of the two smaller pierced hearts is a spoon in a picture in MuCEM (MuCEM dessin 1943.16.1) called “trois cuillères bretonnes” (its the spoon on the right – I haven’t found the other two yet!)
Yet another variation, almost certainly by the same maker is a spoon recently sold at auction in Brest (yet another astronomical price – *sob*!). This spoon has the same overall shape, but a circular cartouche (now empty, it probably originally contained a piece of lace or a religious image under a piece of glass) instead of the upper two heart piercings. This is shown in the picture below
This spoon, (or its very close sister) was drawn by the artist Mathurin Méheut for inclusion in the book “Vieux Métiers Bretons” by Florian Leroy, and is shown below on the left.
The Auction house made a big thing about it being the SAME spoon, which undoubtedly bumped-up the price… Méheut is a very popular and well-regarded Breton artist.
Which leads to my latest completed spoon:
This box spoon is by no means a copy, but is very much influenced by these old spoons that I have shown you. The basic shape is somewhat different – I’ve included a wheel-shaped cut-out (because I wanted to try out a new fretsaw that I have recently acquired). I also didn’t make the bowl heart-shaped, probably because I got carried away with my new scorp knife!
I have tried to get the consistently delicate and “lacy” patterning throughout – big triangles would unbalance the design. I have stuck to almost only triangles in black and red, with occasional starbursts in black to keep the delicate and “frilly” character of the original patterns, emphasized by the lovely scalloped-shaped handle end
I’m quite pleased with this little spoon, and I think she fits in quite nicely with the ones that have gone before her!