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  • Place of origin:

    Nevers (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1790 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Tin-glazed earthenware painted in colours

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mrs Emmie Davis

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Europe 1600-1815, Room 1, case CA11

This plate is an example of faience patriotique, a type of French tin-glazed earthenware decorated with images and mottos of the French Revolution (1789-99). Jugs, plates, bottles and other items with this type of decoration were made at pottery centres such as Rouen, Beauvais and Paris, but the vast majority, including this plate, were made at Nevers.
Faience manufacture was begun in Nevers by Domenique Conrade, from Savona, Italy, who founded his pottery around 1578. Originally inspired by Italian maiolica the potters at Nevers turned to Chinese and Persian ceramics for inspiration by the 17th century. In the 18th century Nevers also produced less expensive, brightly coloured wares which reflected contemporary society and culture known today as faience parlante and faience patriotique. This faience patriotique plate reflects the popular political allegiances of those who bought and displayed such wares in their homes.
Vivre libre ou Mourir (Live free or Die) was a motto used during the French Revolution. The battlements shown on this plate are often mistakenly attributed to the Bastille, here the image represents the defense of the French homeland.

Physical description

Plate of tin-glazed earthenware painted in colours. In the middle are two turrets with troops visible above the parapet, and a blue flag on one tower. On the ground is a cannon with the inscription 'Vivre libre ou Mourir' above. Wavy rim with formal borders in blue and yellow.

Place of Origin

Nevers (made)


ca. 1790 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Tin-glazed earthenware painted in colours

Marks and inscriptions

'Vivre libre / ou Mourir'
Inscribed on the left of the turrets


Diameter: 229 mm, Height: 30 mm

Descriptive line

Plate of tin-glazed earthenware painted in colours, Nevers, ca. 1790.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Histoire des faïences patriotiques sous la révolution
Champfleury (François-Fé Husson)
Published 1867 by E. Dentu, Paris
Ch IX.

Guilleme Brulon, Dorothee, Histoire de La Faience Francais: Lyon & Nevers, Sources et rayonnement, Editions Charles Massin, Paris, 1997.
pp. 69-73.

Exhibition catalogue, Ceramiques Revolutionnaires, Roanne, Musee Dechelette, 1989.
Comparable example. Plate - catalogue number 374 (coll. L. Heitschell) with same battlement scene, same shape body, inscription '1792 / vivre libre / ou mourir', ornate border decoration. No place of manufacture given.


Tin glaze; Earthenware



Subjects depicted

Turrets; Cannon; Soldiers; Flag


Ceramics; Earthenware


Ceramics Collection

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