Pierre-Adrien Dalpayrat was one of the best known French ceramicists of the Art Nouveau period.
Born in 1844 in Limoges, a hub of ceramic activity in France, Dalpayrat trained in faience and china painting throughout the 1850s first at the School of Drawing and later the Municipal School of Painting on Chinaware before working his way through a series of ateliers of important ceramicists in the region, including multiple tenures with Léon Sazerat.
By the 1880s, Dalpayrat’s interest had shifted from faience to grès, which had recently been popularized in Europe by the influx of stoneware from the Far East. He established his own studio at Bourg-la-Reine in 1889, a commune south of Paris where pioneers Ernest Chaplet and Edouard Dammouse had previously worked. There, Dalpayrat partnered with a number of artists and sculptors who provided him with models. The first was a well-received collaboration with Alphonse Voisin-Delacroix, which was cut short by the death of Voisin-Delacroix in 1893, followed by partnerships with sculptor Jean Coulon, designers Maurice Dufrêne and Edward Colonna, and other luminaries of the period.
Dalpayrat, like many of his contemporaries, was preoccupied with attempting to recreate the famous sang de boeuf glazes found in the newly popular imported Chinese ceramics dating from the 18th century. After succesful experimentation at his studio, he devloped a series of flammé glazes categorized by dramatic and richly variegated greens, blues, purples and deep reds. In 1892 he exhibited a series of grès flammés vases adorned with his distinctive glazes at both the Société Nationale des Beaux Arts and the Galerie Georges Petit in Paris to great acclaim.
While Dalpayrat frequently exhibited at the Paris Salons, it was his showings at World’s Fairs which earned him widespread fame in Europe and the United States, in particular at the 1889 Exposition Universelle and more importantly at the Exposition Universelle in 1900, when he was awarded a gold medal for his ceramics and appointed to the Legion d’Honneur.
Louis Comfort Tiffany likely first encountered Dalpayrat's work at Siegfriend Bing’s Maison de l’Art Nouveau in Paris; objects by both artists were included in a smoking room decorated by Hanry van de Velde in the gallery’s inaugural exhibition in 1895. Dalpayrat’s ceramics were also exhibited alongside Tiffany Favrile Glass at World’s Fairs including at the Internationale Kunst-Ausstellung in Dresden in May 1897.
Dalpayrat’s flammé glazes left an important impression on Tiffany, and examples of his ceramics were part of an exhibition of French Art Nouveau Ceramics at Tiffany Studios in the spring of 1901. An unsold vase was transformed into a base for a Tiffany Lamp, now part of the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.