Marc-Louis-Emmanuel Solon (1835 – June 23, 1913), pseudonym Miles, was a French porcelain artist for Sèvres Pottery who moved to Stoke-on-Trent in 1870 to become a leading artist at Mintons Ltd. He remained resident in England until his death. His work commanded high prices in the late Victorian period as a leading exponent of the technique of ceramic decoration called pâte-sur-pâte. One of his vases, believed to be his largest, is on display at Osborne House.
Solon was born in Montauban, Tarn-et-Garonne. Despite some family resistance to his becoming an artist, he studied at the École des Beaux-Arts and with Horace Lecoq de Boisbaudran. Some of Solon's work came to the attention of the art director of the Sèvres Pottery. Solon was employed there from 1862-1870 as a ceramic artist and designer, and he learnt and greatly improved the technique of pâte-sur-pâte. His subjects included portraits, female figures, putti, small animals, and birds, in styles derived from Classical Greece, the Renaissance, 17th- and 18th-century paintings, and Victorian postcards.
Solon moved to England in 1870 at the time of the Franco-Prussian War. He found employment at Mintons Ltd, and settled at Nº1, The Villas, Stoke-on-Trent. Mintons experienced more demand for pâte-sur-pâte ceramics than Solon could meet working on his own, and from the 1870s he trained a number of English apprentices including Frederick Alfred Rhead.
In 1883 he published "The Art of the Old English Potter", a book about pottery produced before Josiah Wedgwood transformed the industry. Solon describes items of pottery which he had collected in his spare time while living in Staffordshire. He also collected books about ceramics; after his death, his library was acquired by the local technical college with funds provided by the Carnegie United Kingdom Trust. His son, Léon-Victor Solon (1872–1957), became the director and chief designer at Minton (1900–09) and then moved to the USA.
- A History and Description of Italian Maiolica (London, 1907)
- Ceramic Literature (London, 1910)
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- Potteries Museum & Art Gallery Examples of pâte-sur-pâte are to be found in the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery in Hanley, Staffordshire, whose collection includes items from the former Minton museum. The website has a search facility which allows you to view images of pâte-sur-pâte (if you type in the keyword "Solon").
- Oxford Art Online entry