Oval dish

late 16th or early 17th century
Follower of Bernard Palissy (French, about 1510–about 1590)


Overall: 44.5 x 56.5 x 9 cm (17 1/2 x 22 1/4 x 3 9/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Lead-glazed earthenware

On View

Alyce Morrissey Gallery (Kunstkammer) (Gallery 143)





Oval dish, with applied snake, fish, frogs, crayfish, and leaves, arranged in a simulated river bed, decorated with translucent lead glazes in naturalistic colors, including green, yellow, blue, and brown.

In the 1550s Palissy introduced an innovative type of pottery decorated with snakes, lizards, fish, frogs, crayfish, and plants-all cast from life for astonishing realism. Palissy transformed useful forms, such as this large dish, into evocations of marshes and riverbeds teeming with aquatic life.


By 1862, Prince Soltikoff; 1862, sold at Soltikoff sale, Paris, lot 522, and bought by Attinborough or Altenborough, London (?); probably with A. H. Dendy, Esq.; 1882, probably sold by Dendy to Mr. F. Thomas; 1883, sold by Thomas to "W.H.W.", possibly W. H. Woodward [see note 1]. By 1960, with Edward R. Lubin, dealer, New York, NY; 1960, sold by Edward R. Lubin to the MFA for $1,000. (Accession Date: January 14, 1960)

[1] Information for the provenance of this object is provided by a paper label affixed to the back of the dish. The label bears the following hand-written inscription: "Dish in Bernard Palissy No 522 in Prince Soltikoff's sale at Paris 1862. bought by Attinborough [or Altenbourough] then passed to A. H. Dendy, Esq. - sold to Mr. F. Thomas 1882, and bought by me from him on Mr. Chaffer's recommendation 1883. W.H.W." Edward Lubin, the dealer from whom the MFA purchased the dish in 1960, identified "W.H.W." as W. H. Woodward, whose pottery collection was published in "Majolica W. H. W., catalogue of a Collection of Pottery belonging to W. H. Woodward," London, 1928. Lubin also identified Mr. Chaffers as William Chaffers, author of "Marks and Monograms on Pottery & Porcelain."

Credit Line

Museum purchase with the Arthur Mason Knapp Fund and funds donated anonymously