The Sarcophagus in Decorative Arts

The Sarcophagus in Decorative Arts

Derived from the Greek sarx, meaning flesh, and phagein, meaning eat, a sarcophagus is, essentially, a container for a body, much like a coffin or casket. Historically, sarcophagi were typically made of stone (though sometimes of other materials, such as wood or metal), with a relief-carved or pediment top, and designed to be above ground, and have been used by many cultures since ancient times.

An ancient [...] Click here to continue reading.


Newcomb College Art Pottery

Newcomb College Art Pottery

Before it was revered for its art, and more specifically for its art pottery, Newcomb College was the country’s first degree-granting college for women within a major university. Its founder, Josephine L. Newcomb, envisioned an environment in which women would learn both practical skills and academic knowledge when she proposed the creation of the college in the memory of her daughter H. Sophie Newcomb, who died at 15. New Orleans’s [...] Click here to continue reading.


Hummel Figurines

Hummel marks Hummel Figurines

History

Berta Hummel (May 21, 1909 to November 6, 1946) was born Massing, Bavaria, and the young girl exhibited artistic talents early, drawing little sketches with images of her friends or things she observed in nature. Her family encouraged her abilities, and by 1927, she enrolled in Munich’s Academy of Fine and Applied Arts. While still a student, Berta became friendly with two Franciscan nuns who were members of [...] Click here to continue reading.


Jacob Medinger

Jacob Medinger Pennsylvania Sgraffito decorated redware plate with deer decoration, p4A item B185545 Jacob Medinger

The Pennsylvania German potter Jacob Medinger was the son of William Medinger, who immigrated in 1854 to Pennsylvania from Wurttemberg, Germany, where he had served his potter’s apprenticeship. The Medingers settled in Neiffer (Limerick Township) in Montgomery County where he set up his own pottery in 1855, an area selected for the local clay deposits that were suitable [...] Click here to continue reading.


Cassolette – definition

Cassolette

“Cassolette,” the diminutive form of the French word “cassole,” means small container. While the word has other meanings, in the world of decorative arts, it refers to a small covered vase meant to hold perfumed substances or incense. A cassolette normally has holes pierced in the shoulders and in the cover to allow the scent to drift out. Frequently, mounted vases that were not originally designed as cassolettes have had a pierced metal [...] Click here to continue reading.


Sewer Tile – Definition

Sewer Tile

Since the dawn of time, as long as there have been people, there has been…sewage. And for almost as long, we’ve apparently been concerned with it. There is concrete (or clay, at least) evidence of this dating back as far as 4000 B.C.E. Babylon, known for many things – gardens, law, sin…., was also known as the birthplace of pipe, pipe that was formed of clay and baked.

Nearly six thousand years [...] Click here to continue reading.


Gemel Pottery Jug or Bottle

Gemels

The pottery form known as a gemel, also gemel jug or gemel bottle, is one of the rarest forms in American stoneware. The word is derived from the Latin word “geminus,” meaning twin, double, paired, or half-and-half. The plural of this same word, “gemini,” is used to refer to the constellation composed of twin brothers, Castor and Pollux, of Greek mythology. The words “twin” or “double” definitely come to mind when one thinks [...] Click here to continue reading.


Cartouche – Definition

Cartouche – Definition

The decorative arts world has many “squishy” and vague vocabulary words, but few are “squishier” and vaguer than cartouche. Originally, the term comes from Egyptology and is used to describe a oval enclosing hieroglyphics and having a horizontal line at one end. (The line denotes royalty.) The oval had significance not unlike that of a closed circle, in that it was believed that an oval around a person’s name provided protection [...] Click here to continue reading.


Lithophanes – Definition

Lithophanes

Lithophane comes from two Greek words: lithos, meaning stone and phainein, which has a more shaded meaning that is close to making something appear quickly. The term refers to an image or scene that is etched or molded into very thin porcelain, so that the intaglio image “pops” when light is placed behind the porcelain. (Because of their windowpane-like appearance, they are sometimes mistakenly referred to as “lithopanes.”) This makes lithophanes three-dimensional, unlike [...] Click here to continue reading.


Drake, Dave – The Slave Potter

Dave Drake, the Slave Potter

The potter known as Dave the Slave was born circa 1800 in an area devoted to pottery making. The Edgefield District of South Carolina had the clay, workforce and demand to make it the area’s pottery capital. Large pottery factories dotted the district, most operating with slave labor. Their products were essential to life on the early to mid-19th century plantation where pottery served as refrigerator, Mason jar and [...] Click here to continue reading.


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