Manufacturer Rookwood Pottery Company American
Decorator Kataro Shirayamadani American, born Japan

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 774

The Rookwood Pottery, founded by Maria Longworth Nichols in 1880, became one of the most significant and longest surviving of all American art potteries, remaining in operation until well after World War II. During Rookwood’s early years, Nichols made significant contributions to work in the barbotine manner, a technique of using pigmented slip applied in a painterly fashion under a clear glaze. In 1887 Kataro Shirayamadani, a Japanese porcelain painter, was hired to broaden the pottery’s offerings of work in the Japanesque style. While a talented artist, Shirayamadani had no previous experience in underglaze painting, but quickly became one of the pottery’s most accomplished decorators in the technique.

As evidenced in this vase, Shirayamadani excelled in the many styles and methods of decoration practiced at the Rookwood Pottery. In style and subject—the thistle plant—this vase typifies the Arts and Crafts period. The strong vertical design of flat, stylized stalks equally spaced around the vessel combine elements that were embraced by many art potteries of the period, but were generally not very popular at Rookwood Pottery, where the artists preferred more naturalistic and painterly depictions of plants.

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