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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Mary Louise McLaughlin

b. 1847, Cincinnati; d. 1939, Cincinnati

Mary Louise McLaughlin was an innovator in ceramics and a leading exponent of the art pottery movement in the United States. Her contributions, both technical and aesthetic, were critical to Cincinnati’s rise as a center of pottery production in the United States. Exhibiting works at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial, McLaughlin came across a display of pottery by the Paris studio of Haviland & Co. and was impressed by the use of underglaze painting. After several months of experimentation, she worked out the method, in effect introducing the technique to America, where it became known as “Cincinnati faience.” Meanwhile, she wrote China Painting (1877), a guidebook for women that went through ten editions, followed by Pottery Decoration Under the Glaze (1880). In 1879, she became president of the newly formed Cincinnati Pottery Club for women. From 1885 to 1898, she worked in a number of media, including etching and painting; she patented a technique for inlay decoration in pottery in 1895. She resumed a focus on ceramics in 1898 and submitted works to the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris.