Charles Catteau the artist

© photo Archives de la Manufacture, Sèvres

Trained as a ceramic artist

Charles Catteau was born in Douai on 26 January 1880. His father was Belgian and his mother French and from childhood he took lessons at the local academy. Later, he studied at the National School of Ceramics in Sèvres, where he completed his studies as a ceramic engineer in 1903. From 1904 to 1906, he worked at the Nymphenburg porcelain factory in Munich. Whilst in Germany, he discovered works created in the Jugendstil as well as French Art Nouveau. It was also in Bavaria that he married Thusnelde Sauter. 

A long career with Boch Frères

Always on the lookout for innovative ideas, Boch Frères recruited Catteau from Nymphenburg in 1906 and the ceramic artist and his family moved to La Louvière. One year later, Catteau was promoted to head up the Atelier de Fantaisie (the Fantasy Studio), the decoration section that he managed until 1948. In parallel with his work at the factory, Catteau taught at the École Industrielle Supérieure, where he trained ceramic artists, glass blowers and decorative painters. In 1910, he was awarded his first gold medal for his work.

© photo collection Archives de La Louvière

© photo Musée de la Publicité, Paris

A formal revival

Catteau left La Louvière to go to France during the First World War, but later returned and in 1922 remarried, to Suzanne Rose Marie Delatre. Inspired by Art Nouveau and later Art Deco, he initiated a renewal in the shapes, decoration and glazes created at Boch Frères. Catteau and Boch Frères were both awarded prizes for the quality and forms of their industrial creations at the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in 1925 and five years later, Catteau’s work was the big attraction at the Ceramics Pavilion at the International Exhibition of Liege. Catteau retired in 1946 and four years later moved to Nice, where he continued to paint until his death in 1966.

« The man of Keramis »

Catteau’s impressive output and numerous prizes amply show how much his work as an artist was appreciated. He succeeded in combining creativity with the demands of mass production. He created timeless pieces for many years and over time, his signature, stamped on every piece produced, became a business asset. Whilst Catteau did not design all of the pieces, he supervised the models, colours, composition of the glazes and their shine. It was Catteau who defined the public face of the Boch company, becoming known to everyone as “The man of Keramis”. 

© photo collection Archives de la Ville de La Louvière