Brouwer, Theophilus A. – New York Potter

A Delft pottery blue and white charger, Holland, 18th century, scalloped rim with scrolled foliate paneled border of fruits in a vase surrounding a central floral bouquet

p4A ItemID E8861278
A Theophilus A. Brouwer (1864 to 1932), Middle Lane, fine and rare flame-painted vase with leaves

p4A ItemID E8856173
THEOPHILUS A. BROUWER (1864 - 1932), MIDDLE LANE flame-painted pottery vase

p4A ItemID F7945644
THEOPHILUS A. BROUWER (1864 - 1932), MIDDLE LANE, fine large flame-painted vase with grape clusters

p4A ItemID F7937296

Theophilus A. Brouwer

Theophilus A. Brouwer Jr. (1864 to 1932) operated highly unorthodox one-man pottery shops on Long Island, New York, from 1893 to 1911. His greatest and most enduring achievement was fire painting, a method that involved exposing glazed biscuit-fired wares directly to the intense heat of an open furnace. After rotating and positioning a piece for as little as 17 minutes, Brouwer removed it with tongs and let it cool in the open air of his studio. Flames alone created the high glaze swirls, patterns, highlights and contrasts that identify his unique work. Brouwer also experimented with glaze combinations – a rough iridescent matched with a plain glaze; sweeping sea grass forms coupled with a flat glaze. He fired these pieces using the same open flame technique as fire painting. He also perfected a soft “kid” glaze and a glaze-gold leaf-glaze “sandwich” that allowed the glaze to flow while leaving the gold in place.

Like Sammy Davis Jr., Brouwer was a multitalented artisan. Beside his passion for glazes, he was an architect, oil painter, wood carver, and sculptor. He built his Long Island home and pottery of reinforced concrete in the shape of a miniature castle.

His earliest pieces were marked with an M (for Middle Lane Pottery) inside the jaw bones of a whale. The original jaw bones formed the entrance to his first business, Middle Lane Pottery in East Hampton. Flame ware was marked with an incised “Flame” and stylized flames. Brouwer also added his signature to many pieces.

Brouwer’s production was extremely limited and took place in a relatively short period of time. As a result, his pieces are rare and difficult to find.

Reference note by p4A Contributing Editor Pete Prunkl.

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