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Title:figure: wet nurse
Date Made:ca. 1780
Type:Household Accessory
Materials:ceramic: lead-glazed cream-colored earthenware (creamware)
Place Made:United Kingdom; England; Staffordshire
Measurements:overall: 6 1/8 in x 3 3/8 in x 4 7/8 in; 15.5575 cm x 8.5725 cm x 12.3825 cm
Accession Number:  HD 2006.33.105
Credit Line:Museum Purchase with funds provided by Ray J. and Anne K. Groves
Museum Collection:  Historic Deerfield

English creamware figurine of a wet nurse or La Nourrice cradling a blanketed, infant child in her left arm as the child nurses from her exposed left breast; the feet of the nursing child extending beyond the blanket are particularly well articulated; and there is a glazed, hollow base. According to Bernard Rackham, the composition was copied from one of the small sculptures made at Avon, near Fountainbleu, from a model attributed to Claude Bertelemy de Blenod (c.1555-1626) who had a pottery just outside the main courtyard of the Palace of Fountainbleau, and was one of the followers of the art pottery of Bernard Palissy (c.1510-1589) who had pottery works in Paris in the vicinity of the royal palace of the Louvre from about 1563-1588 under the royal protection of Catherine de Medici (1519-1589). Jessie McNab writes about a similar circa 1670 La Nourrice figure (1974.356.303) in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art: "The anonymous authors of the Fountainbleau figures and relief composition - some 150 design are known - must have been court artists accomplised in sculpture and medallic art. Wax orignals would have been supplied from which to make plaster molds for the ceramic versions. Guillaume Dupre (1579-1640), 'sculpture de roi' and leading medalist of the time, is traditonally believed to have molded the group of baby and its nurse." However, other sources note that there is no general consensus on who the original modeler may have been, describing that sculptor as School of Fountainbleu or Avon, early 17th century. La Nourrice was popular through the 17th century. Jerah Johnson notes that the Palissy influence spread early and remained strong in England, with numerous variations on Palissy pieces in the early 17th century. The 18th century English connections included the Chelsea and Richard Chaffers factories which produced versions of La Nourrice in the mid 1750s and 1760 respectively in soft-paste porcelain, and Thomas Whieldon and the Wood family of Staffordshire. Chelsea modeled their first La Nourrice figure during the raised anchor period, and the model became popular during the red anchor period and appears on several occasions at the annual Chelsea porcelain sales held in 1755 and 1756. The model was later copied at Richard Chaffers' factory at Liverpool about 1760. The Wood family made a large variety of earthenware figures and vessels in the Palissy style, but their figures have unglazed interior bases. During Historic Deerfield's Creamware Symposium, April 26, 2008, Pat Halfpenny had not seen this figure before, but noted that versions of La Nourrice were made into the 20th century by such potters as the studio potter, Charles Vyse (1882-1971) who with his wife, Nell, set up a studio at Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, in 1919. They.produced slip cast figures based on characters seen on the streets of London, which were popular and Vyce employed a small staff of women to make them. In April 2008, Edward Maeder, then textile curator at Historic Deerfield, dated the dress circa 1750 on this version of La Nourrice.

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