If you’re a fan of Pablo Picasso ceramics, you’re sure to enjoy the oeuvre of Roger Capron. His dedication to the ceramic medium earned him widespread acclaim over the years, and the French artist’s work has now become eminently collectible.

Clearly, the Picasso influence is evident in Capron’s always-relevant abstract expressions: mid-century modern coffee tables, hand-glazed fireplace mantels, vibrant vases and so much more are in high demand right now.

Roger Capron was born in Vincennes, France, on September 4, 1922. He studied applied arts in Paris from 1939 to 1943 and briefly worked as an art teacher. At 24 years old, Capron moved to the Côte d’Azur and, along with fellow ceramists Jean Derval and Robert Picault, founded the Atelier Callis workshop in Vallauris. He was a pioneer of the “formes libres” movement in the 1940s, and his style later moved closer to mid-century modernism.

Images from around Vincennes, France. From left: Main tower of the Château de Vincennes, panoramic view of the church and City Hall of Vincennes, and Bois de Vincennes park.

The town of Vallauris, known for centuries as a mecca for exceptional pottery production, garnered even greater acclaim when, following World War II, well-known artists including Pablo Picasso descended upon the village to reconnect with the ancient art of pottery making. In the true spirit of Picasso, Capron’s spontaneous design aesthetic continually evolved as he experimented with diverse styles throughout his career.

At Atelier Callis, Capron and his partners, believing that beauty should be made accessible to everyone, created functional, everyday household ceramics that became quite popular as the demand for French pottery soared. In 1952, Capron opened his own pottery business, Atelier Capron, which eventually earned global recognition for its brightly colored vases, jugs, pitchers and other pieces. Capron’s work was celebrated with the 1954 Gold Medal at La Triennale di Milano, the 1968 Prix du Ministère des Affaires Culturelles and the 1970 Grand Prix International de la Céramique.

Roger Capron Soleil Coffee Table (Circa 1960)
Glazed earthenware tiles inset into an iron frame. Features bands of color and an abstraction of a radiant sun. Shop now

Following decades of success, Capron’s early expressionist designs, and later modernist geometric work, became increasingly covetable. Soon, leading American department stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue began selling his trendsetting work. By 1980, Capron’s staff had expanded to more than 100, and he became known for his now-iconic, hand-glazed tile coffee tables. Unfortunately, imitators began cranking out inferior, mass-produced copies that eventually drove the master ceramist out of business. His factory closed in 1982.

Roger Capron Round Garrigue Tile-Top Coffee Table (Mid-20th Century)
Round coffee table with Garrigue tiled top and dovetail-joined, stained wood legs. Tiles produced by a technique in which real leaves were pressed into the clay, which disintegrated during firing, leaving a finely detailed imprint. Shop now

Toward the end of the 20th century, Capron’s work fell out of favor with collectors. But today’s vintage lovers, mid-century modern furniture collectors and interior designers are scooping up the influential artist’s valuable home décor pieces such as a tile-top coffee table, tiled fireplace mantel, ceramic-top console, vase, pitcher, jug, serveware, lamp and other classically cool furniture and interior design accessories. Most of Capron’s highly prized works are signed.

Roger Capron Rectangular Garrigue Tile-Top Coffee Table (Mid-20th Century)
Coffee table with Garrigue tiled top and solid, dovetail-joined, stained wood legs. Garrigue tiles are produced by a technique in which real leaves are pressed into clay, which disintegrate during firing, leaving a detailed imprint. Shop now

Roger Capron died on November 8, 2006, leaving behind a legacy of innovation after spending his life contributing to the renaissance of fine ceramics.

Sotheby’s Home is delighted to present a prizeworthy collection of Roger Capron works, perfect when you want to decorate a modern or contemporary home or office: a Soleil coffee tableround tiled coffee tablerectangular Garrigue tile-top coffee table, decorative tiled coffee table, 1960s tile-topped low table, 1970s ceramic-top floral console and a decorative tiled fireplace mantel.

(Editor’s note: supply of Capron’s products is subject to change with availability.)

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