Léon Pointu

Snakeskin cover ovoid vase

Léon Pointu

Balck ovoid vase with snakeskin cover

Date : around 1920-1930

Material : Saint-Amand-en-Puisaye

Condition : Good condition

References : The Art Institute of Chicago, Musée d'Orsay, Paris

Conditions & disponibilité: Available


of work

Large ovoid vase with black base and beige snakeskin cover

This vase by Léon Pointu, an eminent French ceramicist of the Carriès school based in Saint-Amand-en-Puisaye, features an elongated ovoid shape, embodying a harmonious balance between elegance and simplicity. The piece is adorned with a satin black glaze, offering a smooth and sophisticated snakeskin surface that subtly captures the light. This deep black base is beautifully contrasted by a light glaze applied from the neck of the vase, creating a striking visual effect of natural drips. These drips appear to gradually spread over the body of the vase, adding a dimension of movement and fluidity to the piece. This combination of colors and textures perfectly illustrates Léon Pointu’s technical mastery and aesthetic sensitivity.

The light glaze on this vase features a texture known as ‘snakeskin,’ characterized by a slightly crackled appearance. This delicate crackling, reminiscent of the fine, regular scales of a snake, enriches the surface of the vase with a tactile and visual complexity. This particular technique is a testament to the refined craftsmanship and innovation of the Carriès school ceramicists in the application of glazes.

Related works:

An ovoid stoneware vase by Léon Pointu, a master ceramist from the Carriès school, made in Saint-Amand-en-Puisaye. The black enamelled base is topped by a beige glaze with a snakeskin motif covering the upper part. The base bears a number and the signature of Pointu.
An ovoid stoneware vase created by Léon Pointu, a distinguished ceramist from the Carriès school, and made in Saint-Amand-en-Puisaye. The black glaze on the base contrasts with the beige glaze with a snakeskin motif that covers the top of the vase from the neck upwards. The numbered base is also signed Pointu.

Serpent and Moon / Gaze upon each other / In the humid night. Theophanos Haiku

Léon pointu drawing of the ceramist at his potter's wheel

Léon Pointu

Fontainebleau (France) 1879 - Saint-Amand-en-Puisaye (France) 1942

Léon Pointu was born in 1879 in Fontainebleau, where his father, Jean Pointu, owned a ceramic factory. Thus, he grew up and received his training in an environment entirely dedicated to ceramic production under his father’s guidance. Jean Pointu abandoned industrial ceramic production and settled in Saint-Amand-en-Puisaye in 1906, drawn by the artistic effervescence that had arisen there since the arrival of Jean Carriès and the subsequent influx of potters following his example. The Japanese influence is embodied in his work through the forms and decorations that evoke the aesthetic of chanoyu, the tea ceremony. The demand for Japanese simplicity marks Jean Pointu’s work, which, however, differs from the potters of the Carriès school in its determination to master forms and processes. Indeed, he is an experienced and demanding practitioner when he arrives in Saint-Amand at the age of 63, leaving nothing to chance. He carefully selects his clays and his workers, potters, and handle makers, who have worked with the greatest masters. Jean Pointu’s art is characterized by the layering of matte enamel coats that make the glaze shimmer on the surface of vases with fluid forms, revealing a great concern for perfection.

Léon Pointu received his training from his father and became his collaborator after completing his military service. Although during his father’s active period, his art did not distinguish itself from his father’s, it began to take on its own character in 1921 when his father retired, and even more so after his death in 1925. The forms enlarged, the colors asserted themselves, and genuine innovations emerged in Léon Pointu’s art, such as cascades that drip thickly from the shoulder and gradually thicken to imitate snake skin. In the 1930s, influenced by Lucien Brisdoux, Léon Pointu adorned his vases with lattice or ocellated motifs of clouds and perfectly controlled gold or platinum drips on dark or bluish backgrounds. However, he remained connected to his father’s art through his desire for mastery, carefully selecting his clays or glazes, which he sourced from the l’Hospied house in Golfe-Juan, which worked closely with the Massier family.

Léon Pointu dedicated an exhibition to his father at the Salon in 1928 and died in 1942. His production, continued by his wife and son, ceased in 1947 when his workshop was transformed by his son Michel Pointu into an industrial tableware business.

the work

in its context

Léon Pointu’s ceramics belong to the Carriès school, which settled in Saint-Amand-en-Puisaye following Jean Carriès, a center of stoneware production since the Middle Ages.

Its founder, Jean Carriès (1855-1894), chose it for the quality of its clays and its pottery artisans from whom he learned the craft of stoneware. A talented sculptor and renowned portraitist, who triumphed in the Paris of the 1870s-80s, he decided to break with sculpture, at the height of his art, in 1878 after visiting the Universal Exposition of Paris and attending a tea ceremony. Enchanted by the beauty, purity, and spiritual depth of Japanese stoneware utensils, he decided to devote his life to stoneware, this ‘male of porcelain.’ The presentation of Japanese collections, such as Emile Guimet’s, at the Universal Exposition of Paris in 1878 greatly contributed to the dissemination of Japanese aesthetics in French art, particularly in decorative arts such as ceramics. Codified in the 16th century by Sen no Rikyu, the tea ceremony embodies the essence of a ritualized Japanese aesthetic in search of perfection, which fascinated late 19th-century artists with its relationship to nature and its acceptance of nature’s intervention in artistic creation. Carriès added symbolist references to nature in the creation of a fantastic stoneware bestiary, while Jean Pointu focused more on the evocative power of layered matte glazes, as seen in his creation of a remarkably smooth hare fur glaze. The use of gold, drips, and matte glazes were highly significant in creating an Art Nouveau and Art Deco aesthetic within decorative arts. However, Japan’s influence was also decisive in the conception of an artist-craftsman and a total art as it emerged at the turn of the century.

An ovoid stoneware vase created by Léon Pointu, an eminent ceramist from the Carriès school, made in Saint-Amand-en-Puisaye. The black enamelled base is topped by a beige glaze with a snakeskin motif running from the neck to the top of the vase. The base is numbered and signed Pointu.
An ovoid stoneware vase signed Léon Pointu, a leading figure in the Carriès school, made in Saint-Amand-en-Puisaye. The black glazed base is topped with a beige snakeskin glaze covering the neck. The numbered base is signed Pointu.


P. Monjaret & M. Ducret, L’école de Carriès, l’art céramique à Saint-Amand-en-Puisaye 1888-1940, Paris, Les éditions de l’amateur, 1997



  • Vase in gilded glazed stoneware – Jean Pointu, Musée d’Orsay – Paris voir l’œuvre
  • Stoneware box – Léon Pointu, Kunstmuseum Den Haag – La Hague voir l’œuvre
  • Various works – Léon Pointu, The Art Institute of Chicago – voir l’œuvre

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