Bouquet of Roses

Charles Ethan Porter American

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 773

This porcelain plaque is the only known decorative artwork produced by the largely Connecticut based, and New York and Paris trained, Porter. It dates to his association with Hartford’s Society of Decorative Arts. Porter was one of the few professional artists—and the only man—to participate in the society’s inaugural exhibition in April 1880. Around that time—perhaps inspired by his association with Samuel Clemens, whose Hartford home was designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany’s Associated Artists—Porter was also experimenting with other Aesthetic subjects and formats in oil and watercolor painting, the only known African American painter to do so. As the society offered porcelain decoration classes as a form of income generation for women, it is possible that Porter had access to a kiln and pursued the art form for aesthetic and economic motivations. Both the unusual medium and narrow horizontal format suggest an experimental approach to what would become a favorite subject for the artist.

Bouquet of Roses, Charles Ethan Porter (1847–1923), Enamel on porcelain, American

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