"Gondola" cup with figure personifying a spring, ca. 1620–25; model, ca. 1600–1610
Probably modeled by Guillaume Dupré (French, ca. 1574–1642); probably made in the pottery of Claude Berthélemy (French, ca. 1555–1626)
Lead–glazed earthenware; W. 8 in. (20.3 cm)
Gift of Julia A. Berwind, 1953 (53.225.54)
This polychrome-glazed earthenware "gondola" cup was probably modeled by Guillaume Dupré, following the sculptural style of Bernard Palissy. The design and spirit of the "gondola," a contemporary term for this ceramic type of a woman in a bath, suggest it was intended to be decorative rather than utilitarian. Employing Palissy's saturated color glazes, textured waves, and shell-like lobes, the piece also hints at the erotic nature of court art through its high-relief rendering of the nude female figure. The partly submerged woman personifying a spring was a popular theme at the court of Fontainebleau, itself named after a local water source, which numerous potters imitating Palissy's style in the nearby village of Avon frequently employed. Palissy himself, known principally for his innovative rustic ceramics, demonstrated an interest in this motif through his numerous works bearing representations of water. In the first decades of the seventeenth century, "gondola" cups were also made in silver, silver gilt, amber, crystal, enamel, and natural shell.