Alfred Beau ( - )

Portrait d'Alfred Beau

Trained in drawing and watercolour by his elder brother Léopold, he took drawing lessons from Prosper Saint-Germain, who lived in Morlaix. Alfred Beau first established himself as a photographer. He also studied under the painters Camille Flers and Eugène Isabey.

In April 1857, he married Adah-Ana Souvestre, the last daughter of the Morlaix writer Émile Souvestre. Adah was also a watercolour painter and also produced earthenware, which she exhibited twice at the Salon des Beaux-Arts.

Doubtless influenced by the painter and ceramist Michel Bouquet and the renewed interest in ceramics during the Second Empire, he became a painter of paintings on earthenware and exhibited decorative dishes and trays of various inspirations.

After 1870, after offering his services to the HB earthenware factory in Quimper, which refused to take him on because Alfred Beau insisted on signing his pieces, he was eventually taken on by Arthur Porquier's widow as artistic director of the Porquier earthenware factory in Quimper. He then took over the management of the factory, which was later renamed Porquier-Beau.

Alfred Beau created a wide range of designs: picturesque genre scenes, scenes of fairs and markets, depictions of traditional trades, pardons, weddings and festivals, botanical decorations inspired by Japanese prints... His illusionist creations included earthenware musical instruments.

He exhibited his creations at Parisian fairs and world exhibitions, in particular at the 1878 Universal Exhibition, where he won a silver medal for his earthenware cello. Alfred Beau was the driving force behind the revival of ceramics in Quimper, and was soon emulated by other Quimper earthenware manufacturers.

In 1880, he was appointed curator of the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Quimper. A friend of Alfred Guillou and Théophile Deyrolle, he set about building up a Breton-inspired collection, notably creating in 1885 a diorama illustrating a Breton wedding coming out of a chapel, made up of 44 mannequins.

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