Recently I discovered a vase at auction at Salle de Ventes Saint-Job in Belgium described as “Vase Art-Déco: Grès émaillé vert, décor en relief d’un couple de sirènes, monogrammé sous la base RB, H: 30, diam: 26 cm“, which translates to “Art Deco Vase: Green enameled sandstone, relief decoration with a couple of mermaids, monogrammed under the base RB, H: 30, diam: 26 cm”. The vase had an auction estimate of 300-400 Euros. The vase was similar to a vase that I had seen by Rene Buthaud so I decided to research further… It could be an amazing find!
A Vase by Rene Buthaud???
According to icollector.com the same identical green vase sold at Wright Auctions for $4,750 + $950 commission on October 10, 2006 as “Rene Buthaud vase, France, c. 1940, glazed stoneware, 10” wide x 12” high. Incised signature to underside: [RB].” So far so good!
The same identical green vase sold again as Rene Buthaud at Treadway Toomey Auctions for $2900 + commission on December 02, 2007 according to LiveAuctioneers.com. Quite promising!
I then found a quite similar vase in cream sold at Heritage Auctions for $4,250 (including buyer’s premium) on October 24, 2017. However, the height was 10-1/4” (25cm). And the signature is correct for Rene Buthaud.
Despite being sold at Wright Auctions and Treadway Toomey Auctions, two reputable auction houses, the green vase still did not appear quite correct.
The typical Rene Buthaud signature or monogram is in black ink, not incised. However, Etienne Tournier at the Musée des Arts décoratifs et du Design in Bordeaux, France confirmed that the museum has a few Rene Buthaud pieces in their collection which are indeed inscribed.
Upon closer inspection I detected subtle and not so subtle differences between the vases produced by Rene Buthaud and this passable forgery. The vase “almost” appears that is from the same mold, but in that case the vases should be identical!
The Buthaud is more precisely executed and has sharper incised details. For example, compare the wavelike hair on both vases. The forgery is crude. The coloration and application of the glaze does not appear correct for Rene Buthaud.
The 1940 date noted in the Wright Auction does not correlate with the description in the reference Rene Buthaud 1886-1986 by Pierre Cruege, which on pages 84-85 dates two similar vases (obviously the prototype for this now apparent forgery) as 1922-1923. The height is listed as 25,5 cm (instead of 30cm). The height is correct for the vase sold at Heritage Auctions.
Alas, that was not the vase I hoped for…
I do very much appreciate the Salles de Ventes Saint-Job auction house for the accurate lot description which led me on this educational journey!