Vase, c. 1895

Swimming fish and crustaceans

Glazed clay Manufacture Clément Massier, Golfe-Juan, Alpes Maritimes, France, 1883–1900
Clément Massier, French, 1845–1917
H. 17 in. (PO-020-70)

Clément Massier was not only a master ceramicist and creator of luster glazes, he was also a proficient marketer of his own works of art. His studio was in Golfe-Juan, a small community just outside of Cannes, on the southern coast of France. Because of the proximity to rail lines and vacation spots, Massier promoted his factory as a tourist attraction. Massier’s pottery is known for its iridescent glazes which he called “reflets métalliques.” The process involved several steps: first, a piece was bisque-fired; next, it was glazed and re-fired; and then, it was covered in clay slip that contained metallic compounds. A final firing in a reduction kiln created the thin metal film that produced the object’s iridescent appearance. Contemporary accounts mentioned that it could take up to five firings to get the layers of iridescence needed for the desired look. Many of the employees who worked in Massier’s factory eventually took their knowledge to other manufacturers. One of these employees was Jacques Sicard who replicated Massier’s luster glazes for American company S. A. Weller Pottery (1872–1949). Clément Massier’s piece in the Morse collection is a massive vase depicting sea creatures with iridescent effects.