School of Palissy (Avon)

Shallow Oval Dish with a scene of the Sacrifice of Isaac

early 17th century

lead-glazed earthenware
12 x 10 1/4 in (30.5 x 26 cm)

William A. Clark Collection, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.


The great French ceramicist Bernard Palissy began his career in Saintes, near Bordeaux. He moved to Paris in 1562 and brought new, colorful glazes of his own invention and detailed, naturalistic molds that created fantastic creature-covered platters. His style and techniques soon inspired potters at the royal palace of Fontainebleau and nearby Avon. The imitators departed from Palissy’s naturalism, however, often creating symmetrical pieces with geometric borders and molded relief centers inspired by Roman mythology. Despite his fervent Protestantism, Palissy rarely depicted religious subjects such as in this dish interpreting Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac. These unsigned pieces are impossible to attribute to a specific pottery and are therefore generically referred to as Avonware or School of Palissy.