School of Paris

The Nurse

early 17th century

lead–glazed earthenware
9 1/4 x 4 3/8 x 4 in.

William A. Clark Collection


In the sixteenth century, the French court’s demand for luxury goods drove production of specialty earthenware objects meant purely for display. Sixteenth century French ceramicist Bernard Palissy, an innovator of colorful glazes and molded ceramics, inspired a number of imitators within his lifetime, among them Jean Chipault and Chipault’s son, Jean. They ran a pottery near the royal palace of Fontainebleau. In the early 17th century, they teamed up with court sculptor Guillaume Dupré, who modeled a series of figures in wax, including the nurse and child. The dauphin, the future Louis XIII, visited the pottery frequently, amassing a large collection of its work and giving many pieces to acquaintances.  The figure molds were used for many decades, and the glaze colors were altered. This piece could have been created any time in the first half of the 17th century.