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Affirmation and Rediscovery
Objects from the Society of
Arts & Crafts, Boston

Exhibition and Sale
March 21-April 25, 1997
JMW Gallery
144 Lincoln Street
Boston, MA 02111

Exhibition
May 9-June 15, 1997
Craftsman Farms Foundation
Parsippany, NJ

Copies of this catalog are available for
$25 + $4.05 shipping. Contact us to order.

Arthur Wesley Dow
(1857-1922)

The town of Ipswich, Mass. where Dow was born, and the surrounding salt marshes were a constant inspiration for his work. Even after traveling the world in 1903 and 1904, and the American southwest with Alvin Coburn, he returned to the familiar landscape. However, his approach was anything but familiar. Early in his career, he put aside his Western approach to art, and embraced the philosophy of Asian art learned at the Academie Julien in Paris. He was influenced by his exposure to Japanese block prints as assistant curator of Japanese Art at the MFA of Boston, under Ernest Fenollosa. He published several educational references, the most important of which was his handbook, Composition, published in 1899, which went through many reprints. In 1897 and 1899, he showed in special exhibitions sponsored by the Boston Society of Arts & Crafts. Dow taught at Teachers College, Columbia University, and during the summers he taught at his own Ipswich Summer School which he ran from 1891 to 1907. The school was attended by artists of varying disciplines from all around the country including several from Newcomb College. His work and equally his teachings make him one of the foremost artists and educators responsible for shaping twentieth century modern art.

 

William Henry Grueby
(1867-1925)

William Grueby was born in 1867 in Boston. He was a potter and businessman and showed at both the 1899 and 1907 Society exhibitions. In 1894, Grueby-Faience Company was formed, and by 1909, it was incorporated as the Grueby Faience and Tile Company. Two of this country's leading arbiters of turn of the century style chose to incorporate Grueby into their work. Tiffany Studios used Grueby Pottery for lamp bases, and Gustav Stickley used Grueby Tiles in his stands and tables, also accessorizing his catalog with vases and lamps. Grueby participated in numerous exhibitions, highlights include: The Architectural League of New York, 1895; the Exposition Universalle, Paris, 1900 (where he was awarded two gold medals and one silver medal); the Buffalo Pan American Exhibition, 1901, where he shared a booth with Gustav Stickley; and the Louisiana Purchase Exposition at the St. Louis Grand Prix, 1904. By 1910, he had a final exhibition and sale in South Boston. The C. Pardee Works of Perth Amboy, NJ purchased the Grueby Faience and Tile Company in 1919. Grueby vases were designed by only a few artists and all were handthrown. Decoration was executed by modelers hired from Boston's art schools while tiles were pressed into molds. Although many glaze colors were used, most famous was the matte green which won numerous awards, inspiring a rage for green glazed pottery, and fostering many imitators.

 

Marblehead Pottery
(1904-1936)

In 1904, the Marblehead Pottery was founded by Dr. Herbert Hall as part of a handicraft therapy program for convelescing patients at his hospital. Soon after it began, the pottery was separated from the Sanitarium and Arthur Baggs was made its director. He purchased the pottery from Hall in 1915. Baggs had previously worked under Charles Binns at the NY School of Clayworking and Ceramics at Alfred. He taught pottery at various institutions throughout his career including the Ethical Cultural School and the School of Design and Liberal Arts in New York and the Cleveland School of Art. From 1925-28, he worked at the Cowan Pottery in Cleveland. To honor and recognize his work he was awarded the Charles F. Binns Medal in 1928 in New York. He exhibited in 1933 at the Robineau memorial Ceramic Exhibition in Syracuse and the 1937 Paris Exhibition. When the Marblehead Pottery was closed in 1936, he continued his teaching at Ohio State.

The pottery produced primarily hand thrown vases in simple shapes, however tiles, pitchers, bookends, hanging pots and wall pockets were also made. Marblehead cider sets were sold through Gustav Stickley's catalog and showroom. The finish was most often matte and in muted colors, but some glossy, textured, and mottled color glazes were also used. A small percentage of the vases were hand decorated with conventionalized designs of plants, marine forms, animals, landscapes and geometric shapes. These designs were incised or surface painted in two or more colors.

Newcomb Pottery
(1895-1940)

Newcomb Pottery was founded in 1895 and continued in operation until 1940. The pottery was part of the Sophie Newcomb Memorial College in Louisiana, which was founded as a woman's college, and part of Tulane University. Ellsworth Woodward and his brother William were trained at Rhode Island School of Design and joined the Tulane faculty in 1884. The two brothers, together with another New Englander, Gertrude Roberts, were the sole instructors of the newly formed art department at Newcomb College.

Most of the decorators of Newcomb Pottery were graduate students and professionals who had been through the art program, some of whom had studied with Arthur Wesley Dow. Men were consistently employed to throw the pots, a role apparently not deemed appropriate for women, despite the intention of training women for industrial art. Early work of Newcomb is characterized by simple bold designs
and firm drawing as espoused by Dow in Composition, executed in cool colors under a high glaze.

After 1911, matte and semi-matte glazes developed by Paul Cox were almost exclusively used. Decorations inspired by the southern landscape, flora & fauna, were relief carved, into the damp clay. Newcomb pottery continually received medals for excellence in design and execution at many exhibitions including; the Paris Exposition, 1900; Buffalo Pan American Exposition, 1901; St. Louis, 1904; Portland, 1905; and San Francisco in 1915. Newcomb was regularly sold at the Society's retail shop and was exhibited in the 1907 exhibition.

Paul Revere Pottery
(1907-1942)

The Paul Revere Pottery was formed in Boston in 1907, by Edith Guerrier, the librarian for the Public Library's Reading Rooms in the North End, and Edith Brown, a children's book illustrator along with Mrs. James Storrow, who provided financial support. As an activity for the members of a club known as the Saturday Evening Girls they organized the pottery to provide training and employment for the girls of the club. Early on, an English pottery chemist, formerly with the Merrimac Pottery, was engaged to teach the girls glaze formulas and firing in the kiln. The group expanded rapidly and in 1915. Mrs. Storrow financed a pottery designed by Edith Brown and built in Brighton, MA. Around 1925, the markings of the pottery were changed from S.E.G. to P.R.P. or the Paul Revere Seal. The product consisted mainly of cereal sets and other utilitarian forms plainly glazed in a variety of colors or decorated with juvenile motifs of chicks, rabbits, ducks, landscapes and flowers always designed by Edith Brown. Upon special order, names, initials or mottos could be incorporated into the designs. Plain and decorated vases were also offered. It was a successful social and artistic experiment but not a profitable business, as thousands of dollars were required to subsidize it. In 1932, Edith Brown died and the pottery was closed in 1942.

Roycroft Shops
(1895-1938)

After many years as a soap salesman, Elbert Hubbard of East Aurora, NY quit his job and boarded a ship for Europe. Hubbard was inspired, like so many others during this time, by the words and philosophies of William Morris and began writing. In 1895, the ostentatious self-promoter opened the Roycroft Shops and began a periodical called The Philistine.

The small publishing shop quickly grew into an artistic hotbed for crafts, including furniture, metal, textiles and leather. The craftsmanship was excellent and exemplified the philosophies of the rapidly growing American Arts & Crafts movement. Artists such as Karl Kipp and Dard Hunter were two designers at Roycroft influenced by what was going on in Europe at the time and brought an international element to their work. The workforce at Roycroft grew from approximately 50 to over 500. A completely self-sufficient commune, the Roycrofters grew their own food, operated their own bank, and even their own baseball team.

Visitors came from all around the world came to participate in the lectures, exhibitions and musical events held at Roycroft. The achievements of this community came the closest to the ideals of the English Arts and Crafts Movement. On May 7 1915, Elbert Hubbard and his wife Alice were lost in the sinking of the Lusitania. The years to follow would prove difficult for the remaining Roycrofters and ultimately the absence of Hubbard in combination
with a depressed economy resulted in the closing of the Shops.


Gustav Stickley
(1857-1942)

Gustav Stickley was born in 1857 in Wisconsin. At an early age, Gustav's family moved to Pennsylvania where the as a teenager he worked in his uncle's chair factory. It was here that his appreciation for the craft of furniture making began. Years later, a trip to England exposed Gustav to the ideals and philosophies of the Arts and Crafts movement. Upon returning to the States, he opened the United Crafts shop in Eastwood, New York and his furniture debut at the Grand Rapids Furniture Fair in 1900 met with great accolades. In 1904, United Crafts became Craftsman Workshops.

In addition to designing and manufacturing mission oak furniture, Gustav Stickley wrote and published The Craftsman, a monthly journal dedicated to spreading the word of the Arts and Crafts lifestyle in America. Principles such as simplicity, functionality and honesty touted in The Craftsman are evident in the details of Stickley's furniture.

In 1913, Gustav moved the Craftsman Workshops to New York City. Due to an unwavering dedication to the ideals of the movement, as well as a change in the styles demanded by the public, the company closed shortly after the move. Two of his younger brothers, Leopold and John George Stickley, were among his leading competition. The L & JG Stickley Company were willing to adapt their designs to the changing needs of the public and took over the Craftsman Workshops in 1918. Gustav worked with L & JG for about six months before leaving the partnership indefinitely.

 

L & JG Stickley
Leopold Stickley (1869-1957)
John George Stickley (1871-1921)

Leopold Stickley, born in 1869, was the older brother of John George Stickley, born in 1871. Closely following the path of their eldest brother, Gustav, L & JG became furniture manufacturers in 1902. Soon after their incorporation in 1904, the name Onondaga Shops was introduced, the namesake of the county in which they lived in Central New York State. The Grand Rapids trade show was the stage for their debut in 1905 and in 1906 the L & JG Stickley Handcraft label was introduced. Although the early work of L & JG appears to be highly inspired by Gustav's designs, some pieces were improved upon and even surpass the craftsmanship of their brother.
For example, L & JG invented a method by which all four sides of a table leg utilize quarter-sawn oak, proving that the quality and creativity was comparable to their older brother.

In 1912, the label "The Work of L & JG Stickley" was introduced to draw a clear distinction between themselves and their older brother. L & JG bought the failing Craftsman Workshops in 1918 and Gustav worked with them for a short period under the conjoined Handcraft and Craftsman decal. The demands of the public were changing and L & JG Stickley moved with them by introducing new lines of furniture, a move that sustained the longevity of their company. Their last Arts and Crafts catalog was printed in 1922 and production was ceased by 1923.