De Sphinx

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(established 1827)

One of the major pottery producing firms in Holland, De Sphinx began as a glassmaking concern in 1827 and operated under the name Petrus Regout & Co. until 1899. During this period the company rapidly increased in size, employing more than 800 by the end of the 19th century and exported internationally. Production was wide‐ranging and included domestic and commercial goods of all kinds. Generally these were characterized by historicist styles and patterns until new technologies and materials impacted upon the industry. In Holland this was accompanied by relevant educational change in ceramic education, including the establishment of a State School of Pottery in Gouda in 1922. In 1917 the ceramic designer and modeller J. H. Lint was appointed to reinvigorate the company's products, a task taken over from 1924 to 1929 by Willem Rozendaal who was interested in the technical possibilities of pottery manufacture. Guillaume Bellefroid became the company's highly influential design director between 1929 and 1946, establishing a marked shift of direction away from the historicism that had characterized much of the company's production towards a modern industrially produced aesthetic. He designed more than 30 services in this period, many of which were visual embodiments of a contemporary functional aesthetic geared to mass‐production technology. His most successful design was perhaps the Maas tea service (1934) with its clean lines, simple forms, and economic price. However, competitive pricing and low profit margins were hallmarks of De Sphinx, a sales‐driven outlook that restricted the possibilities open to designers. Indeed, between 1946 (when Bellefroid left the company) and 1950 (when Pierre Daems was appointed as designer) the company did not employ a designer as it deemed it unnecessary at a time when there was little demand for new lines. In 1958 the company merged with Société Céramique to form N.V. Sphinx‐Céramique.

Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.

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