Collections

The Museum of Enamels and Mosaics of Briare deals with the industrial story of Briare’s Manufacture. It presents mosaic pieces made with Enamels form Briare (Émaux de Briare) and also an important collection of buttons and beads from Briare.

The manufacture of Briare

Catalogue de mosaïque Briare, 1906
Mosaics’ Catalog, Briare, 1906

MeMo is about the industrial adventure of the Manufacture of Briare, from its birth en 1837 to its success with Jean-Félix Bapterosses and his successors.
You will see machines used formerly by the manufacture. You could also discover many archives about the history of the factory.
For instance, a view of the manufacture from the end of the 19th century is presented as an illustration of the growth of the factory at the turn of the 20th century. You will also see machines used for buttons’ and beads’ productions. There are also photographs of workers, engines’ drafts and many other archive documents.

 

Buttons & Beads from Briare

Thanks to the important collection of buttons and beads of the MeMo, you will know everything about production secrets and understand the commercial success of buttons and beads from Briare.

Boutons de la manufacture de Briare
Buttons from Briare’s manufacture. They are inserted on car stock by women.

Buttons
Since 1845 buttons are made and they know immediately a great success. Jean-Félix Bapterosses created a machine that produced 500 buttons at once while his rivals, the English, went on manufacturiing buttons one by one. This process was a revolution for the French buttons industry, that’s why Jean-Félix Bapterosses received the gold medal at the Industrial Exhibition of Paris in 1844.

The variety of forms (with holes, “à queue”,”T” form…) and colors of Briare buttons explained their commercial success. Many lcal people of Briare lived thanks to this production as women who inserted buttons on card stocks.

Buttons’ production stopped at the dawn of the 1970’s because of the plastic development and of washing machines that broke buttons in enamel.

 

Beads

Since 1864 the Manufacture of Briare produced beads. Their production is quite similar to buttons. Their materials, enamel, allows a plurality of creations : enamel can imitate coral, horne, mother-of-pearl, ivory, amber…

Perles de Briare en vrac
Briare’s Beads for European places

Many African ethnies were fond of beads and they used it as finery or decoration. You can recognize Briare’s beads thanks to the burge located on maximal diameter which is the specificity of Briare’s production.
Briare’s beads manufacturing ended in 1970’s following the decolonization process. By the way Briare’s manufacture lost Amercian markets.

 

Enamels of Briare & Mosaics


Mosaic is an artistic technique used for decorative floors, walls and ceilings. It is composed of fragments of materials called tesseras. It can be stones, terracotta, enamels, marble or shells which are assembled with mortar. The oldest mosaics known came from the antic city of Eretria, Greece, and are dated from the 4th century BC. They were made with pebbles.

Mosaic art knows three phases of development. First, it was born and came out durong the 4th and 5th centuries B.B. in the Mediterranean area and then during the 11th and 12th centuries in the Byzantin Empire. Recently, at the turn of the 20th century, the art of mosaic knows a new interest during Art Nouveau or Modern Style.

Enamels from Briare were created around 1885. First mosaics with Émaux de Briare were made during Modern Style (Art Nouveau).

MeMo exposes a large collection of mosaics and enamels of Briare from Modern Style (Art Nouveau). Some of the most famous mosaics were made by Eugène Grasset (1845-1917), precursor of Modern Style (Art Nouveau). He worked with the manufacture and realized many art pieces including mosaics of Saint-Etienne’s church of Briare.

 

Fronton de l'église Saint-Étienne de Briard, par Eugène Grasset
Saint-Etienne’s church pediment, Eugène Grasset, Briare, ca. 1890.

In addition to Modern Art’s mosaics, you will discover pieces of optical art developed during the 1970s. Among them, many compositions of Victor Vasarely (1908-1997).

Mosaïque de Vasarely
Vasarely’s mosaic, 1974

MeMo expands its collections in a contemporary art gallery in which you could see a mosaic made by “Les Flocats” inspired by Mucha.

To finish your visit, you could watch a little TV documentary (app. 8 min.) showing the current production of the Émaux de Briare (Enamels from Briare).