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Manuel Cipriano Gomes Mafra was a leading maker of Palissy-style ceramics in the second half of the 19th Century, and the foremost proponent of Portuguese Palissy ware. He was the first of a group of important ceramicists to operate out of the Portuguese town of Caldas de Rainha, north of Lisbon, opening a factory there in 1853. Caldas would later become famed as a leading centre of faience and majolica in the Palissy style, which was undergoing a popular revival in the 19th Century.
As well as introducing new techniques for glazing his products, Mafra made a number of stylistic innovations to the traditional Palissy style of ceramic decoration. Instead of serene images of plant life, Mafra's works often depicted fierce, violent struggles between snakes and lizards. He inspired a number of other Portuguese artists, also operating out of Caldas later on in the 19th Century, to produce similar fine works in the Palissy style.