Locations: Culver City, Cathedral City
Dates of Operation: 1950s - 1994
Seller Values: Check average price on Ebay
Popular Lines & Patterns:
Bali, Beachcomber, Friendly Island, Jamaica, Mardi Gras, Pastorale, Polynesian Star
Marc Bellaire produced amazing ceramics with a distinctive modern look to them from the 50s up until his passing in 1994. While he’s often associated with the look of Sascha Brastoff (Bellaire also worked at Brastoff’s factory before striking out on his own), his wonderful, quirky illustrations stand on their own.
Actually, I’ve found that Bellaire items are harder to find than Sascha Brastoff in general - both “in the wild” at thrift stores and garage sales, and at antique stores. I’m not sure why this would be, but perhaps it’s because there was just so much more Brastoff out there, or maybe because more people tended to keep their pieces. In all our time searching, I’ve only come across two Bellaire pieces and neither was in good condition - that includes the vase shown here which has a big crack.
Bellaire was born Donald E. Fleischman in Ohio in 1925. His art education completed (including the Chicago Art Institute and LA County Art Institute), he worked at Sascha Brastoff’s company until going out on his own in the 1950s. I’ve looked up the Culver City location given, and the building still seems to exist, though I’m not sure who the tenant is.
Bellaire’s designs favored native peoples including Polynesian, Jamacian, Indian and Asian figures. He often used elongated, stylized depictions for his work. Bellaire was also a painter and sculptor, and he also authored a few books and instruction manuals on ceramics. We finally found a copy of “Underglaze Decoration” at an estate awhile back.
Most of Bellaire’s work is signed by hand (though not necessarily by his own hand), and reads “Bellaire” or “Marc Bellaire”. He got out of the ceramics business in the 60s and turned more toward his painting and sculpting, moving to Virginia, then the Bay Area of California, before settling in Cathedral City (near Palm Springs) until his passing in 1994.
Bellaire also produced pieces under the psuedonym “Charles Le Richeaux” while working at Harper Pottery before he started his own company. Confusingly, the Le Richeaux name was purchased by La Mirada from Harper for use - so not all pieces marked Le Richeaux may be Bellaire items. More investigation on this is probably needed…
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