On our recent trip to France buying for the shop I could not resist documenting this perfect example of the great faker Edme Samson’s work. Kakiemon is a mid-17th-18th century Japanese porcelain of great decorative restraint on a white ground. While popular forever from the great kilns of Arita, Kakiemon was surpassed in popularity by Imari, Kutani and other more gaudy colors in the 15th and 19th centuries.
Kakiemon was one of the most popular porcelains brought to Europe and as the burgeoning factories producing first soft paste and then hard paste porcelain, Kakiemon was copied throughout Europe. Meissen and the other princely factories of Germany and Chantilly and several other royal French factories produced great imitations. This was the period of approximately 1730-50.
Beginning in the 1840′s the Chantilly factory produced elegant Kakiemon in a soft paste milky color but hard paste tocopy the Chantilly! This example similar to period pieces of the Regence and Louis XV reigns has bronze dore mounts but when further investigated we find the marks of the Samson factory.
The mark of interest is a pair of entwined s’s for the Samson factory. Sadly the making of a lamp sometime in the 20th century destroyed another mark.
While we know that the vast majority of Samson production was misrepresented by unscrupulous 19th and early 20th century antiques dealers and auction houses throughout Europe and America, this mark is an honest one and clearly used by Samson to proclaim their work. A fascinating article in 1892 by the famous author/antiques student Sarah Cooler Hewitt documents in gory details for page after page the shenanigans of the House of Samson. The basement had storage bins with orders for antiques from all of the most prominent antiques shops and auction houses in the world–just waiting for them all to be made and shipped! Four floors covering a city block had hundreds of craftsmen working creating every conceivable type of porcelain, bronze, lacquer, enamel, etc. that one could imagine. And she described how aging was accomplished by rubbing, chipping, acid treatments, and other chicanery.