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Joseph-Théodore Deck, French, 1823 - 1891

Made in France, Europe


Earthenware with underglaze blue and overglaze enamel decoration

Diameter: 18 13/16 inches (47.8 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Decorative Arts and Sculpture

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Purchased with funds contributed by Mr. and Mrs. Adolph G. Rosengarten, Jr., 1978

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Joseph-Théodore Deck was one of the most influential ceramicists of the second half of the nineteenth century. In addition to original designs, he produced imitations of French and Italian Renaissance pottery as well as Persian and Iznik (Turkish) ceramics. The decoration of this dish is taken from an Iznik piece once in the ceramics museum at Sèvres.

Additional information:
  • PublicationStyles, 1850-1900

    Théodore Deck was the most influential and technically progressive ceramist in France in the second half of the nineteenth century. This dish is an early example of Deck's "Persian" faience, which he developed through much research in the later 1850s and which brought him his first public success in 1861, when it was exhibited at the Exposition des Produits de l'Industrie in Paris. There, Deck won a silver medal and praise for his innovative Islamic-style wares with their "dazzling hues [which] seem like electric sparks." One of the first French applied artists to be interested in Near Eastern styles and decorative techniques, Deck rediscovered in Islamic pottery the process of using a white alkaline slip containing tin oxide as a ground for enamel colors. When fired, the white ground provided a uniform, slightly translucent surface for the colors, which are set off and fused against it, and for the transparent glaze applied over them, appearing, as here, particularly pure and vibrant. For such Islamic wares, Deck frequently copied floral designs from specific Turkish (Isnik) sixteenth- and seventeenth-century pieces. This dish, with its stylized flowers and leaves, reproduces the decorations of an Isnik dish then in the Musée Céramique at Sèvres, which Deck later illustrated in his important technical treatise La Faïence (1887). Deck's Islamic earthenwares were the first examples of art pottery to depart from European precedents in both medium and style of decoration, and were described by Deck himself as "the beginning of a new era" in faience, "without precedent and without tradition in the West." Kathryn B. Hiesinger, from Guides to European Decorative Arts: Styles, 1850-1900 (1984), p. 10.