Grant Allen, a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, traveled in 1880 to Vallauris, France, where he spoke with Clemént Massier about his inspirations and aims. Allen composed the following article, "A Pilgrimage to Vallauris" for the Cornhill Magazine (London, May 1880). The New York Times reprinted it on June 6,1880, and we're pleased to make the content available to you.
The Pottery of Vallauris--- From time immemorial, it seems, the making of pottery has been the staple industry of Vallauris. Antique tiles and fragments of finer workmanship may still be found scattered by the thousands on the level space behind the village known as les Incourdoures, which doubtless marks the site of the old Gallo-Roman oppidum [the main area of settlement in a Roman colonial town]. At the present day, besides M. Massier's artistic works, the place contains no less than 70 common pottery factories; and we saw coarse bowls and pipkins by the hundred drying in the sun as we drove up the main street. Perhaps it was the presence of the Roman remains of les Incourdoures at his very door which first set the founder of the artistic Vallauris ware thinking of the possibility of bringing home keramic art to the houses of the people. Some antique lamp or vase, picked up, as they often are, among the vineyards or olive groves, may have given the prime hint to the new manufacture. At any rate, some 20 years since M. Massier bethought him of adding a new branch to the common pottery trade in which he had been brought up. He produced a few simple and gracefully shaped pieces after ancient models and the experiment succeeded to admiration. As visitors from the growing town of Cannes began to buy his pretty ware, he waxed more adventurous. He sought out Greek, Roman, and Etruscan models of a higher type. Then a journey to Italy became necessary; so M. Massier started off to go the round of Italian museums on his artistic quest. At Rome, Florence, Bologna, Turin, he picked up many hints; but it was in the inexhaustible Museo Borbonico at Naples, among the rich treasured disinhumed from the ashes and lava of Pompeii that he found the larger number of his choicest patterns. Returning to Vallauris, provided with casts and drawings---and the notes with which he has kindly furnished me show what a wonderful power he has of knocking off the idea of a vase with a few strokes in a thumbnail sketch--- he set to work to reproduce his Etruscan or Pompeian prototypes "in a commercial spirit." His aim was to popularize ancient art; and he certainly has carried his point. "As Cannes grew," he said to me, "we grew with it. Visitors took back our pottery to every part of Europe; and others who saw it there admired and bought. C'est l'art mis a la porté de tour le monde."