By pure chance the curator of the Amsterdam Pipe Museum found a brown leather case in a private library in Belgium. It contained 80 pages of the most wonderful drawings. These are the designs from the 1860’s of tobacco pipes to be carved in meerschaum. A fine offer convinced the owner to sell the whole set to the museum.
After a thorough study two of the pages proved to be signed by the name of ‘Jean Perron’, a Frenchman. Before the discovery, it was generally believed that these kind of pipes were produced in Vienna. The Perron drawings prove that Paris had its own production of meerschaum pipes of the highest quality.
The French style is mainly portraits of elegant ladies in the latest Parish fashion, with a elaborate hairdo or hat. Some designs go a step further: naked women in reclining poses. Perron had this imagination and phantasy, but in addition he was a well-trained craftsman who could carve both in meerschaum and ivory.
One sketch stands out for it’s design of a woman with finely wrought kerchief and distinctive earrings. Most probably she is one of the women from the French colonies such as Martinique or Guadeloupe, rarely seen in Paris those days. The Amsterdam Pipe Museum holds just the same pipe in the collection for many years, exactly matching the drawing. It can now be attributed to Jean Perron. This is a rare occasion and a unique find, the names of known carvers/designers of pipes are less than five in the world.
Both a selection of the drawings as well as the pipe of the woman and other artistic tobacco and cigar pipes are now on view in the Amsterdam Pipe Museum. The exhibition runs from 14 March up to 7 May 2016. The museum is open on Monday through Saturday 12AM -6PM. Address: Prinsengracht 488 in Amsterdam.
More information can be found at www.pipemuseum.nl