Plaque "The Scimeter" [sic]

Lois Whitcomb Rhead American
Manufacturer American Encaustic Tile Company American

Not on view

This plaque depicts a woman posing with arms outstretched holding a scimitar, a curved sword. Donning a loose dress and a headdress with a transparent, floor-length veil, the composition was created using the pate-sur-pate technique of painting successive layers of thin, translucent slip, resulting in varying degrees of opacity. Pate-sur-pate plaques by Rhead are quite rare, but similar examples of figures in various poses have been identified as Ruth St. Denis, Vaslav Nijisky and Tamara Karsavina, all famous dancers of the early 20th century. White not identified by a name, this plaque title "The Scimeter" [sic] may be a reference to contemporaneous ballet or dance.

This object was made during the time when Lois Whitcomb was married to the English-born American ceramist Frederick Hurton Rhead (1880-1942), one of the most important figures in the development of art pottery in this country. Lois Whitcomb was an assistant to Rhead during his pottery endeavors in Santa Barbara, California, and when in 1917 he returned to Ohio, she married him and joined him at his next venture at the American Encaustic Tile Company (founded in 1875 in Zanesville, Ohio) and the largest tile company in the world at the end of the 19th century. There the two collaborated from 1917-1929, the year they were divorced. Lois Whitcomb was a student of Leon V. Solon, former director art director at Mintons), and is best known as a sculptor. She was a member of the American Ceramic Society and the National Association of Woman Painters & Sculptors. This plaque reveals her attention to anatomy and her command of the pate-sur-pate technique.

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