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Dish

  • Place of origin:

    France (made)

  • Date:

    1565-1585 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Palissy, Bernard, born 1510 - died 1590 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Earthenware with coloured glazes

  • Museum number:

    5476-1859

  • Gallery location:

    Medieval and Renaissance, room 62, case 15

Bernard Palissy was the most innovative and original ceramist of the French Renaissance. A man of multiple talents and interests, he was at once a favourite of the Catholic royal family and nobility of France, and an ardent Protestant who was often punished for his beliefs.
Trained as a glass painter, with a keen interest in the natural world and geology, he published serious studies of natural history and lively accounts of the long struggle and desperate financial straits to which he was driven to perfect the modeling, firing and glazing of his ceramics. Palissy studied the chemistry of glazes and by 1567 had set up a kiln on the grounds of the Palais des Tuileries in Paris for which he was commissioned to make a grotte rustique by Catherine de' Medici, daughter of Lorenzo de' Medici, duke of Urbino. It was never completed.

Palissy is best known for his rustique figulines : basins, ewers and dishes decorated with plants and animals skillfully cast from life and vividly coloured glazes. The life casting of animals and plants was already practiced by some contemporary goldsmiths but Palissy was the first to apply the process to ceramics. Having perfected his first rustic basin around 1555, Palissy was presented to Henri II, who praised and purchased it. Such elevated patronage confirms the high status of Palissy's ceramics, which reflect the growing interest of the period in practical knowledge and empirical understanding of the natural world, its curiosities and phenomena.

Physical description

Earthenware dish with distinct decorations in relief of reptiles, plants and shells coloured with bright glazes.

Place of Origin

France (made)

Date

1565-1585 (made)

Artist/maker

Palissy, Bernard, born 1510 - died 1590 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Earthenware with coloured glazes

Marks and inscriptions

Dept.S&A Museum

Dimensions

Length: 40.6 cm, Width: 53.3 cm, Height: 4 cm, Weight: 2.76 kg

Object history note

Possibly made by Bernard Palissy or his sons Nicolas and Mathurin, 1565-85, or possibly 17th century. A recent French doctoral thesis compared moulds found on the site of Palissy's workshop and the casts applied to the dish, and argued that the dish was by a follower of Palissy. See Perrin (2002).

Historical significance: Palissy is best known for his rustique figulines : basins, ewers and dishes decorated with plants and animals skillfully cast from life and vividly coloured glazes. The life casting of animals and plants was already practiced by some contemporary goldsmiths but Palissy was the first to apply the process to ceramics. Having perfected his first rustic basin around 1555, Palissy was presented to Henri II, who praised and purchased it. Such elevated patronage confirms the high status of Palissy's ceramics, which reflect the growing interest of the period in practical knowledge and empirical understanding of the natural world, its curiosities and phenomena.

Historical context note

Bernard Palissy was the most innovative and original ceramist of the French Renaissance. A man of multiple talents and interests, he was at once a favourite of the Catholic royal family and nobility of France, and an ardent Protestant who was often punished for his beliefs.
Trained as a glass painter, with a keen interest in the natural world and geology, he published serious studies of natural history and lively accounts of the long struggle and desperate financial straits to which he was driven to perfect the modeling, firing and glazing of his ceramics. Palissy studied the chemistry of glazes and by 1567 had set up a kiln on the grounds of the Palais des Tuileries in Paris for which he was commissioned to make a grotte rustique by Catherine de' Medici, daughter of Lorenzo de' Medici, duke of Urbino. It was never completed.

Descriptive line

Possibly made by Bernard Palissy, Dish, earthenware with coloured glazes, 1565-85, or possibly 17th century, France.

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

Baker, Malcolm and Richardson, Brenda, eds. A Grand Design : The Art of the Victoria and Albert Museum. London: V&A Publications, 1997. 431 p., ill. ISBN 1851773088.
Perrin, Isabèlle. Les Techniques céramiques de Bernard Palissy. Doctoral thesis, Université de Paris IV - Sorbonne, U.F.R.d'Archéologie - Histoire de l'Art, 2 vols (Paris: 2002).

Materials

Earthenware; Glaze

Techniques

Modelling (forming); Firing; Glazing

Subjects depicted

Snake; Fish; Lizard; Shell; Foliage; Oak leaf; Ferns; Lobster; Frog (amphibian); Water

Categories

Earthenware; Figures & Decorative ceramics; Ceramics

Collection

Ceramics Collection

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