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 collectors: the Minton Palissy jug.

Hunting Still Life with Jug and Pheasant
Minton majolica Palissy ewer

It appears that the color of the jug has been subdued to better blend with the earth tones in the rest of the image but there's no question that the shape is that of the Minton pitcher. The color palette actually reminds us of that used by Schiller. Did Schiller make a copy of the Minton Jug? We don't know but we will say this, the cartouche on the side of the jug visible in the painting is a somewhat altered reverse of that in the Minton piece.

Some details of the jug in the painting:

It is so rare to find a recognizable piece of majolica in a painting contemporary to the subject. 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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