Aesthetic Ambitions: Edward Lycett and Brooklyn's Faience Manufacturing Company
- Dates: May 3, 2012 through June 16, 2013
- Collections: Decorative Arts
February 1, 2012: Nearly forty decorative arts objects, including vases, ewers, plates, and other wares, drawn from public and private collections, will be on display at the Brooklyn Museum in the exhibition Aesthetic Ambitions: Edward Lycett and Brooklyn’s Faience Manufacturing Company. The exhibition highlights the nearly fifty-year career of ceramicist Edward Lycett (American 1833–1910), creative director of the Faience Manufacturing Company from 1884 to 1890.
The range of works illustrates Lycett’s talent and his adaptability to stylistic changes in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as well as his vision for Faience, a company based in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, that earned acclaim for producing ornamental wares that set a new standard of excellence in American ceramics. These bold and eclectic pieces synthesized Japanese, Chinese, and Islamic influences characteristic of the Aesthetic movement and were sold in the United States’ foremost artware emporiums.
Among the ceramics on view are 39 Faience pieces, including a number of large-scale vases. Also included in the exhibition are Lycett’s formula books, family photographs, and other ephemera; rare examples of ceramic works by his three sons; and other Brooklyn-made ceramics from the Museum’s collection.
Edward Lycett immigrated to New York City in 1861. His early career included a White House commission to paint additional pieces of the Lincoln administration’s porcelain dinner service for President Andrew Johnson. In 1884, Lycett began his employment with the Faience Manufacturing Company, where he experimented with ceramic bodies and glazes and designed opulent wares. He supervised a team of talented artists, including James Callowhill (1838–1917) of the English firm Worcester Royal Porcelain, who decorated the vessels with exotic motifs in vibrant hues and costly gold paste. Lycett and his team of decorators produced pieces that were sold in the foremost jewelry and china shops throughout the United States, including Tiffany & Company in New York and Bailey, Banks, and Biddle in Philadelphia.
The exhibition is organized and circulated by the University of Richmond Museums, Virginia. The Brooklyn presentation is coordinated by Barry R. Harwood, Curator of Decorative Arts. A fully illustrated catalogue with an essay by the exhibition’s curator, Barbara Veith, an independent scholar of American ceramics and glass, accompanies the exhibition.
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