Founded during the reign of Louis XIV, HB Henriot Faiencerie is one of the oldest French companies in operation today. The company enjoys tremendous history and symbolizes the town of Quimper.
The oldest manufacturer of Quimper Faience is the Grande Maison HB-Henriot, which has continuously produced country pottery, specializing, in tobacco pipes made of white clay. But, at the end of the 15th Century, the arrival of Jean-Baptiste Bousquet in Locmaria (originally from the Mousier region) truly marked the beginning of "three centuries of Faience".
He could not have found a better environment to set up the factory - large timber promising combustion, an easily navigable river and low-cost labor. The first piece of faience was brought out in 1708, when his son Pierre, master faiencier, came to join him in Quimper. In 1731 Pierre Bousquet gave his daughter in marriage to Pierre Bellevaux from Nevers. Following Bellavaux's death, Pierre Clement Caussy from Rouen was called and brought with him the polychrome decoration which was very fashionable in the 18th century.
In 1771, Caussy's daughter married Antoine de la Hubaudiere. This marked the beginning of a long dynasty that lasted until 1917 and was the period in which the trademark HB (la Hubaudiere) was born. HB was however, going to have to set up with the competition. In 1776 and 1791 two other faienceries joined the historic site: DUMAINE, which became the HENRIOT factory and ELOURY the PORQUIER faiencerie. Each of these three manufacturers created their own distinct identities. All three of them survived the many difficulties of the 18th century becorated and when they were, the method consisted of finger-painting and was essentially composed of simple floral designs.
In 1872, the widow Porquier, who had inherited Eloury, became associates with an artistic director, Alfred Beau. With great originality, he painted scenes on the faience, imitating art on canvas. It was during this period that the famous design of the little Breton man and woman in their traditional headdress was created and is still produced today.
In 1906, Henriot bought out Porquier, leaving just two faienceries in Quimper. Between 1920 and 1940, the two companies became mercilessly competitive and called upon more than 100 artists to produce exceptional pieces such as the HB Odetta stonewear by artists such as Griot, Bazin, Berthe Savigny.
Meanwhile, Jules Henriot became very interested in Rene-Yves Creston, a key figure in Ar Seiz Breur. This artistic movement was founded in 1923 and aimed to revive the Breton arts by joining together tradition and modernity. He also became interested in Mathurin Meheut who had his own workshop in the factory and was working with artists such as Jim Sevellec, Geo Fourrier and Micheau-Vernez, some of whose designs are still being reproduced in our workshops today.
At the end of the Second World War, fierce competition between HB and Henriot forced HB to update their tools to keep pace with progress and they equipped themselves with electric ovens. Financial difficulties experienced by Henriot in 1968 culminated in the merger of the two companies. During the middle of the 1970's, and with the help of the economic crisis, sales began inexorably to fall. In 1983, the Quimper Faience experienced serious financial difficulties and was under threat of liquidation.
In March 1984 a dutchman Paul Janssens, the sole importer of Quimper faiencerie in The United States, took over and relaunched the company under the banner "The New Quimper Faience". At the time, there were 59 employees. After undertaking a very serious expansion program, most notably in exports, Paul Janssens sold the company in October 2003 to Pierre Chiron, a Quimper native.
Today more than 100 people work at the Faiencerie - all perpetuating the original "savoir-faire" with the common objectives: Tradition, Creation, Innovation.