Rookwood pottery

DEFINITION

A pottery company that gained international recognition in the early 20th century, it was first located in a converted garage in Cincinnati, Ohio, and opened in 1889. The founder was Maria Longworth Nichols Storer, a wealthy woman, who, like so many privileged ladies of that era, did china painting as a hobby. However, unlike many of her peers, she became business minded. She began by experimenting with glazes, but was frustrated with the lack of temperature control of the local kilns. So she built her own kiln, which was the launching of Rookwood Pottery. The first full-time decorator she hired was in 1881 and was artist Henry Farny (1847-1916). He only worked one year, as he discovered the West and devoted himself to painting western subjects. However, during his year at Rockwood, he used special techniques to create portrait plaques of Indians. These pieces were predecessors to 161 Rookwood pottery Indian images between 1881 and 1904 by 23 decorators including Matthew Daly (1860-1937). Among the many employees Nichols hired were chemists, artists, and designers. The earliest Rookwood pottery was usually decorated in relief on natural colored clays, such as sage green or pink. These "pieces could be gilt, have a simple stamped design or be carved in high relief. These early pieces could also be painted by someone who bought the greenware, an unfinished piece, and then decorated it at home. These personally decorated pieces are not considered to be Rookwood". With the leadership of Maria Nichols Storer, her employees developed many new glazes and decorative methods. The most common glaze that became a signature part of Rookwood Pottery was "deep yellow, orange and red over dark brown with a high gloss, usually in a flower or leaf motif." Subjects in addition to Indians were floral designs, portraits and fish. Rookwood artists credited with particular skill in addition to Farny and Matthew Daly are Carl Schmidt, A.R. Valentien and William McDonald. "Each had a signature mark which can be found on the base of the pieces they decorated." Rookwood was sold in stores including "Tiffany, Ovington and other large department stores in major cities across the country. The company developed an architectural department where large parts to decorate entrances and buildings were made. . . .Financial problems in 1907, the Great Depression, and two World Wars led to a slow decline in quality, and, finally, bankruptcy in 1941. Rookwood was purchased by Walter Schot but closed for good in 1967." Sources: Sources: Magan Holloway Fort, ???Current and Coming???, ???The Magazine Antiques???, November 2007, p. 22; www.aarf.com/ferook97.htm (LPD)

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