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Water Filter

Decorative Arts and Design

This highly decorated water filter is an example of the entrepreneurial creativity of Thomas Smith, the owner of UPW. The filter was produced in conjunction with the Gates City Stone Filter Company, with whom Smith formed a partnership, on the Greenpoint premises of the pottery.
MEDIUM Porcelain
DATES Patented November 28, 1882
DIMENSIONS Overall: 20 x 12 1/2 x 11 1/2 in. (50.8 x 31.8 x 29.2 cm) (a) Height of Base: 11 1/4 in. (28.6 cm) (b) Height of Filter Section: 6 7/8 in. (17.5 cm)  (show scale)
MARKINGS Printed on underside of base (a): in red "UNION / PORCELAIN / WORKS / GREENPOINT / N.Y." within urn, "9 88" below urn; and in green, "U.P.W." above head of an eagle Painted in black on underside of middle (b) near edge: "16"
ACCESSION NUMBER 1995.143.1a-c
CREDIT LINE Bequest of Marie Bernice Bitzer, by exchange
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION White porcelain water filter with vitreous glaze and polychrome and gilded decorations, consisting of (a) base, (b) filter section, and (c) lid. The three parts stack to form a cylindrical vessel. (a) Base: cylindrical form that rounded at bottom where it tapers to meet foot band; hole for spigot within lozenge in center near bottom; molded garland register around top that is accented with gold and pink, green, and blue painted ribbons; main register decorated with rust-colored ground filled with orientalizing motifs of stylized floral and foliate forms in green, white, pink, maroon, yellow and black; lower register molded into vertical sections accented with gilding. (b) Filter section: cylindrical form with porous limestone bottom for filtering water; wide neck is stepped back from body; two applied handles at neck, each formed by a dragon curled into a ring, accented with red and gold; neck decorated with beaded and gilded band and rust-colored band with tripartite blue flowers; collar has molded foliate forms with gilded accents; main register has rust-colored ground filled with orientalizing motifs of stylized floral and foliate forms in green, white, pink, maroon, yellow, blue, and black. (c) Conforming lid: shallow stepped dome with flat knob finial with molded flower on top. Decorated with rust-colored bands and black and gilded accents.
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Union Porcelain Works (1863–ca. 1922). Water Filter, Patented November 28, 1882. Porcelain, Overall: 20 x 12 1/2 x 11 1/2 in. (50.8 x 31.8 x 29.2 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Bequest of Marie Bernice Bitzer, by exchange, 1995.143.1a-c. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 1995.143.1a-c_overall_PS22.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 1995.143.1a-c_overall_PS22.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2024
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