Tobacco jar

Designed by Wilhelmina Post American
Manufacturer Grueby Faience Company American

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 774

William H. Grueby founded his art pottery in Boston, Massachusetts, after first operating a successful tile works. His exposure to contemporary French ceramics at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago marked a turning point in his career. He admired the novel matte glazes of the French studio potters, and was especially attracted to the relief designs he saw on the stoneware of August Delaherche. This vase with its design of stylized overlapping leaves and upright stems with buds is one of the closest to contemporary Delaherche examples. The interpretation by the Boston firm, however, is more rigid and contained than the French. Grueby developed his distinctive glazes, notably his dense, opaque matte green glaze, often with irregular veining that critics compared to the skin of a watermelon. Here, the green is enlivened only by the small touches of yellow on the buds. Most of his vessels feature relatively simple modeled decoration of stylized broad leaves. Many of his designers were conceived by Boston architects, George Prentiss Kendrick and Addison Le Boutillier. In customary practice, the throwing, glazing, and firing was done by men, and the decoration was executed by a small staff of mainly women. They would roll out thin ropes of clay and apply them to the vase’s surface, further modeling, tooling, and carving them to finish the designs.

This covered tobacco jar is an unusual form within the Grueby Pottery oeuvre. The lid is specially designed to be double-walled with an opening to accommodate a sponge, to absorb moisture so that the cigars within would keep fresh. Unusually, this examples retains its original sponge. The stylized blossoms just under the rim are appropriately tobacco blossoms

Tobacco jar, Designed by Wilhelmina Post (American, 1867 - unknown), Earthenware, American

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