Baluster-shaped vase. Handpainted decoration under a transparent, shiny crackled glaze; blue scrolled leaves intersect with overglaze gold geometric motifs. Gilt bands at rim and base. Two-part vertical mold marks.
Before becoming an international phenomenon, the Arts and Crafts movement began with the ideas of British artisan William Morris (1834-1896) and writer John Ruskin (1819-1900). Morris and Ruskin believed that the growth of cities isolated urban workers and that mass production negatively affected artisan crafts. They proposed to solve these issues by returning to a medieval-inspired village model where everybody participated in a community lifestyle. In the United States, artisans adapted these ideas into the studio art pottery movement. Unlike their British counterparts, who often focused predominantly on social issues and therefore made objects that incorporated Gothic and Renaissance motifs, American craftsmen developed a cohesive and novel aesthetic.
The National Museum of American History has a comprehensive collection of American art pottery that illustrates the impact of the Arts & Crafts movement on American ceramic style and production starting in the late 1870s.
This elegant earthenware vase was decorated by Clara Chipman Newton in 1880. Women pottery decorators in the 1800s and early 1900s came from a variety of backgrounds. For some--including young immigrant women--pottery decoration was a respectable way to earn a living. For others like Newton--a founding member of the Cincinnati Pottery Club--it was a hobby.
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