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Part of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts
Date: 1532–33Accession Number: 1996.287
Date: ca. 1550Accession Number: 17.190.1740
Follower of Bernard Palissy (French, Agen, Lot-et-Garonne 1510–1590 Paris)
Date: last quarter 16th centuryAccession Number: 53.225.52
Léonard Limosin (ca. 1505–1575/1577)
Date: 1556Accession Number: 49.7.108
Date: 1552Accession Number: 07.287.12
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Over the course of the sixteenth century, French royal power became increasingly centralized, and courtly etiquette grew more formal and refined. François I (1494–1547; ruled 1515–47), known to his contemporaries and to later historians as the Father of Arts and Letters, gave impetus to this trend by attracting to his court humanists and artists from Italy and other parts of Europe. Working under François and his successors at the château de Fontainebleau and elsewhere, these artists developed a new vocabulary of fantastic shapes, abstract patterns, natural motifs, and elongated figures, whose sinuous proportions were in keeping with Italian Mannerist taste but also harked back to native Gothic aesthetics. Diffused through prints, their innovations were applied to a wide range of art forms, not least among them those of the decorative arts. The excellence of the resulting works reflects a long tradition of French craftsmanship as well as the heightened demand for luxury objects from an increasingly sophisticated, largely noble clientele. Although possessing functional shapes, many of the pieces exhibited here, such as the Saint-Porchaire ware and the tin-enameled earthenware dishes, were meant exclusively for display, as their fragility and often complex narratives make clear.
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