A look at the design, market and legacy of Victorian pottery

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Art of Majolica: Felix Clouet

Felix Clouet was a French late 19th Century still life artist. His work is probably best described as tromp l'oeil: realism was his stock in trade. He was born 1806 in Puiset in Eure-et-Loire. He was a student of Emile Vernet-Lecomte. He made his debut in 1859 at the Paris Salon. Most frequently his work included game or flowers but occasionally he expanded into other still life subjects.

Nature Morte Au Lievre by Felix Cluet
A Still Life of Paeony Roses by Felix Clouet
In 1876 he undertook a painting that incorporated a majolica ewer into his subject matter. The ewer will be instantly recognizable to most long time Victorian majolica collectors: the Minton Palissy jug.

Hunting Still Life with Jug and Pheasant
Minton majolica Palissy ewer

The colors of the jug are different from that in the painting but there's no question that the shape is that of the Minton pitcher. But is it the Minton Jug? The answer is no. The jug shown is in fact the original 16th Century jug by Bernard Palissy upon which the 19th Century Minton jug is based upon. Below are some images of the Palissy original from the V&A Museum.

Original Palissy ewer from the V&A Museum

Some details of the jug in the painting:

It is so rare to find a recognizable piece of majolica in a painting. A lovely painting it is too!

Clouet's work can be found in private and public collections, including those in Northumberland, Bourges and Chartres. Clouet is listed in the 'Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs', by E Benezit. He died in 1882.

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