Taxile Doat: Grand Feu Master
French ceramist Taxile Doat trained at the École des Arts Décoratifs, Limoges and at the École des Beaux Arts, Paris, under the sculptor Augustin-Alexandre Dumont. He went on to work at the Manufacture Nationale de Sèvres from 1877 to 1905 in addition to starting his own private atelier at his home in 1892. Like many of his contemporaries, Doat was inspired by high-fired stoneware and porcelain from Japan. He became a master of high-temperature firing techniques, called grand feu, and wrote an influential treatise on the subject in 1905 which served as both an education and an inspiration to countless American ceramists, including Adelaide Robineau. This led Robineau and her husband to invite Doat to St. Louis, Missouri in 1909 where he was a key part of the short-lived University City pottery. He remained there until 1914 before returning to his home in Sèvres where he worked privately for the remainder of his life.
Grand feu ceramics, in particular porcelain, were the most exclusive, difficult, and expensive to produce. Doat mastered the medium and became especially famous for his exceptional deployment of the pâte-sur-pâte technique in a variety of neoclassical and Art Nouveau styles. Developed at Sèvres in the 1850s, it translates to “paste on paste” and is a time-consuming process involving the application of an image to ceramic ware via countless, thin layers of liquid clay. He also became famous for his exquisite crystalline and drip glazes, and his asymmetric, naturalistic gourd forms. A towering figure in the ceramics world, Doat left behind an impressive legacy as a teacher, scholar, and a ceramist.