Musée d'Orsay: Niels Hansen Jacobsen Pot

Niels Hansen Jacobsen

Niels Hansen Jacobsen (1861-1941)
Glazed stoneware, turned and modelled
H. 16; W. 20,1 cm
© ADAGP, Paris © RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

Pot (detail)


This pot is part of the vast movement at the turn of the century, aiming to bring art into all areas of life, encouraging painters and sculptors to apply their talents to the decorative arts. It is the work of Niels Hansen Jacobsen, a Danish sculptor who lived in Paris between 1891 and 1903. It was at this time that he became attracted to ceramics, coming under the influence of French creative artists, without renouncing his own experimentation into the plastic arts.
From a technical point of view, Hansen Jacobsen's stonewares follow in the tradition of Carriès. The tones are delicate and refined contrasting with the more severe, more male colours of an artist like Delaherche for example, and the glaze is remarkably smooth to the touch. On the other hand he creates his own unique shapes. Moreover they upset the French critics who often reproached him for "the irregular curves of their contours", while at the same time approving of his palette.
In this case, the work was partially turned on a potter's wheel before being worked on by hand to alter the outlines and to provide a handle knotted like the branch of a tree. Hansen Jacobsen wanted to animate the basic material by giving it biomorphic shapes that could evoke organic life and its perpetual changes. He also sought to achieve this on a different scale through a series of impressive sculptures in bronze representing undefined creatures, often malevolent, moving like a cloud or fog.

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