Nevers, ca. 1680
Faience (tin-glazed earthenware)
H. 25 in. (63.5 cm), W. 27 in. (68.6 cm), D. 21 1/8 in (54 cm)
© Christophe Perlès
Over the years, Nevers potters and painters refined the technique of tin-glazed earthenware, which enabled them to produce larger and more ambitious objects, like this rare tree planter, the largest faience piece known today. Its general shape was influenced by contemporary architecture, and the two large heads of Apollo on each side are characteristic of the Baroque style developed at the court of Versailles under Louis XIV. However, the originality of this piece is its type of decoration called à la palette de Nevers (in the palette of Nevers), inspired by Japanese porcelain and developed at Nevers. It is characterized by the use of grand feu colors — deep blue, dark manganese purple, bright yellow, orange ochre, and olive green — applied next to each other on large surfaces without depth or perspective. The images depicted here are Asian-inspired scenes and rural landscapes.
Such pots were used for orange and other fruit trees cultivated by the king, members of his family, and other wealthy aristocrats. They were placed inside orangeries, or greenhouses, during the winter, and, during the warm months of the year, in symmetrical jardins à la française (French Gardens), including those designed by André Le Nôtre, principal gardener and landscape architect of Louis XIV