On View: Special Exhibition Gallery, 4th Floor
Christopher Dresser (1835–1906)
Christopher Dresser, one of the foremost independent industrial designers of the nineteenth century, produced an amazing array of forward-looking designs in ceramic, metal, textile, wallpapers, carpets, and furniture as a freelancer for leading firms such as Wedgwood and Minton. He was trained as a botanist and searched for the underlying geometry in nature, as seen in the floral decoration of the soup plate here. He also hoped to realize the promise of the Industrial Revolution to make well-designed products available to as large an audience as possible, often using inexpensive materials: the radically simplified design of the jug here is realized in silver plate rather than silver, and the soup plate is earthenware rather than porcelain. Although we look back at Dresser’s designs—particularly the iconic forms of the jug and toast rack—as prescient examples of protomodernism, the prevailing taste of his time and for decades after was for historically inspired, traditional designs such as the elaborate pitcher here (given by the postal workers of East Liverpool, Ohio, to President Theodore Roosevelt in 1905).
Glazed semi-vitreous procelain
27 x 9 x 7 5/8 in. (68.6 x 22.9 x 19.4 cm) (show scale)
Underneath, printed in blue, center: [company logo], "SEMIVITREOUS PORCELAIN"/ [illegible];
painted in gold, in script above logo " Presented to / President Theodore Roosevelt/ by the / Crockery City Branch, No. 577,/ national association of Letter Carriers,/ East Liverpool, Ohio" continuing painted in gold, in script below logo " Manufactured by/ Knowles, Taylor and Knowles Company,/ Potters,/ East Liverpool, Ohio."
Gift of the Estate of Mary Hayward Weir, by exchange
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Knowles Taylor and Knowles (1870-1929). Pitcher, ca. 1905. Glazed semi-vitreous procelain, 27 x 9 x 7 5/8 in. (68.6 x 22.9 x 19.4 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Estate of Mary Hayward Weir, by exchange, 2009.8. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2009.8_side1_PS6.jpg)
side, 2009.8_side1_PS6.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2011
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