After Bernard Palissy

(French; b. St.-Avit, France, 1509-d. Paris, 1590)

Rustic Plate with Snakes, Lizards, and Frog

19th century

lead-glazed earthenware
3 x 17 x 22½ in. (7.6 x 43.2 x 57.2 cm)

William A. Clark Collection


Renaissance potter Bernard Palissy (1509–90) was best known for his rustiques figulines, large platters covered with plants and animals often modeled from nature. Palissy and his techniques were largely forgotten by the end of the 17th century. However, in the mid-19th century, a craze for his work inspired a number of imitators, known as “Palissystes.” Charles-Jean Avisseau, who established the revival in Tours, France, experimented for years in order to recreate and perfect Palissy’s lost glazes and techniques. Although he did not model the flora and fauna from nature, he eventually created objects remarkably similar to the originals and imitated Palissy’s mottled glaze backgrounds. Avisseau was followed by other potters working in the rustic style, including Joseph Landais, Georges Pull and Avisseau’s son. This platter is unsigned and not attributed to a particular potter. He did copy some signature elements of Palissy’s originals, including the coiled snake surrounded by frogs, salamanders, and shells. He had either viewed Palissy’s rustic platters or worked with another potter who had seen the originals.