Exhibition | The Art of German Stoneware

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on April 2, 2012

From the Philadelphia Museum of Art:

The Art of German Stoneware
Philadelphia Museum of Art, 5 May — 5 August 2012

Curated by Jack Hinton

Inkstand and Candleholder with Musicians, Animals, and a Griffin, ca. 1740. German Salt-glazed stoneware with painted decoration, roughly 20 x 10 x 7 in. (Philadelphia Museum of Art)

From the fourteenth through eighteenth centuries, stoneware ceramics from Germanspeaking centers in modern-day Germany and the Low Countries were valued and widely traded throughout northern Europe. In the 1600s—the heyday of stoneware production—they found an enthusiastic market in colonial North America. The medium’s success is due to its stonelike durability and imperviousness to liquid, making it perfect for cooking, storage, and drinking vessels. The social aspect of stoneware ceramics explains the crisp relief decoration on sixteenth- and seventeenth-century pieces, which feature moralizing images or political figures and their coats of arms; later pieces often eschew such ornament for floral or geometric patterns inspired by Far Eastern porcelains imported to Europe. Inkstand and Candleholder with Musicians, Animals, and a Griffindemonstrates the inventiveness and artistry of stoneware potters, even when faced with a dwindling market for their works in the homes of the well-to-do. This exhibition examines German stoneware from its origins to later revivals in the nineteenth-century and celebrates its long-standing relationship with the city of Philadelphia. It features selections from the Museum, seventeenth-century Dutch pictures demonstrating the high status of stoneware, and a generous promised gift of around forty pieces of German
stoneware from Dr. Charles W. Nichols. The exhibition is accompanied by an
illustrated publication by Jack Hinton, Assistant Curator of European Decorative
Arts and Sculpture.

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From Yale UP:

Jack Hinton, The Art of German Stoneware, 1300-1900 From the Charles W. Nichols Collection and the Philadelphia Museum of Art (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012), 60 pages, ISBN: 9780300179781, $20.

Beautiful and eminently useful, stonewares produced in the German-speaking lands from the Middle Ages onward were highly valued for their durability and suitability for a range of domestic and social uses. Widely traded throughout Europe, they were also among the first European ceramics to reach colonial North America. During the Renaissance the addition of brilliant salt glazes—s well as relief imagery that communicated with the user—raised the status of these wares. Later examples introduced abstract floral or geometric decorations and more unusual, original forms, which retained broad cultural significance.

About ninety fine stoneware pieces from the Philadelphia Museum of Art and a promised private collection testify here to the success, artful decoration, and fascinating variety of this medium. Jack Hinton describes the developments in stoneware through these notable examples, and beautiful color images bring
their details vividly to life.

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