Dedham Pottery platter

Dedham Pottery platter

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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.
Opened in 1896 by the Robertson family in Dedham, Massachusetts, the Dedham Pottery succeeded an earlier venture called Chelsea Pottery. Like Mary Louise McLaughlin and Walter B. Stephen, Hugh Robertson was inspired by ceramics at the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition. Robertson showed an early interest in Chinese ceramics, especially wares decorated in a distinct red glaze called Sang-de-boeuf, literally French for “oxblood.” The glaze, which had become popular in China during the Ming dynasty in the sixteenth century, was notoriously challenging to replicate. Robertson did successfully recreate a darker version with a distinct crackled appearance for Chelsea Keramic Art Works. With a tinge of Victorian humor, he called his ware “Sang de Chelses.” After Chelsea Keramic Art Works closed in 1889, Robertson opened Dedham pottery and adapted his crackle glaze into a translucent version that would become the pottery’s signature aesthetic.
The Dedham pottery company produced a distinct stoneware body with a tight crackle glaze, which its potters decorated with cobalt blue patterns of whimsical animal forms. The pottery’s most common design was the crouching rabbit, echoed in the company’s underglaze mark. This platter features a stylization of the company’s lion tapestry motif, with back-to-back lions hunting flying owls.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Date made
Dedham Pottery
place made
United States: Massachusetts, Dedham
Physical Description
ceramic (overall material)
blue (overall color)
monochrome, blue (overall surface decoration color name)
overall: 8 3/4 in x 12 1/2 in; x 22.225 cm x 31.75 cm
overall: 1 3/4 in x 12 5/8 in; 4.445 cm x 32.0675 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of Clara Berwick
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Ceramics and Glass
Domestic Furnishings
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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