This spectacular Basque stoneware vase is lavishly decorated in the style of a lovely frosted cake. The “Arroka” series was designed and created by Suzanne Fischer, the wife of Rodolphe Fischer and co-owner of the R.F. Ciboure Pottery. The vase was thrown, then additional clay was richly applied with a palette knife and incised with an stylized pattern of swirling leaves and flowers. Each Arroka piece was entirely unique and handmade by Suzanne Fischer.
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The base is marked with the following: “Grès Basque, Arroka, pièce unique, R.F. Ciboure, Poterie, R.S.F.” (“Basque Stoneware, Arroka, unique piece, R.F. Ciboure, pottery, R.S.F.” ) The initials stand for Rodolphe Suzanne Fischer (she added her husband’s first name to her name). The stamped pottery mark “R.F. Ciboure” first appeared in 1955. The vase is 7.25″ (18 cm) high and 3″ (8 cm) in diameter at its widest point.
Condition notes: The vase is in perfect condition, with no chips, cracks or repairs.
The pottery was founded in 1919 in the small town of Ciboure, on the Basque coast of France. The original partners were Etienne Vilotte, Louis Floutier and a man known only as Lukas. Work began in the cellar of an old whaling storeroom on the southern bank of the Nivelle River. In 1922, two of the partners left, leaving Vilotte and his wife, Elise, sole owners of the new company known as La Poterie de Ciboure. The pottery’s style was immediately established: classical ceramic forms with a neo-Greek style of decoration, inspired by Art Deco and Basque traditional ware. The work was signed VE Ciboure, for Etienne Vilotte.
During WWII, the pottery was largely left without staff, clays or fuel. In 1945, Rodolphe Fischer and his wife, Suzanne, purchased the company and restored it. For ten years, all work remained signed “VE Ciboure,” until Rodolphe changed the mark in 1955 to “RF Ciboure.” Suzanne was a gifted ceramicist who introduced a more modern, organic sensibility to the pottery, designing the lines “Arroka” (“rocks”), “Jorraila,” “Alexa” and “Clara.”
Rodolphe’s son Max and his wife Carmen changed the mark one more time to “MF Ciboure.” The pottery essentially closed in the 1970s, but Max continued making pottery until his retirement in 1995.