Archive for February, 2017
Although the Newark Museum has been collecting New Jersey ceramics since 1910, there has never before been a permanent gallery devoted to this subject. On October 22, the Museum unveiled its first interactive display devoted to the history of pottery and porcelain production in New Jersey.
Hot, Hotter, Hottest refers to the three levels of heat needed to fire the three basic kinds of clay products for which New Jersey was long famous. Hot (2192˚F) is for earthenware, which includes the red clay vessels of the early 1800s and the white pottery dinnerware that poured out of Trenton in the 1890s. Hotter (2192–2372˚F) is for stoneware, the dense, non-porous material that can be grey or tan and has been used for everything from pickle crocks to fine art ceramics. Hottest of all (2372–2552˚F) is for porcelain, the refined, white, translucent material that was invented by the Chinese many hundreds of years ago. Some of America’s finest porcelain came out of New Jersey factories, gracing the parlors of the Gilded Age elite and the dining tables of American presidents since 1918.
More than 90 examples drawn from the Museum’s vast holdings are on rotating display in a specially designed gallery in the “House & Home” installation in the Museum’s 1885 Ballantine House. Included will be examples that exist in no other museum collection, such as the late 18th-century presentation piece by Phillip Durell of Elizabethtown in 1793. Such redware, decorated by carving through a surface layer of white clay known as slip (which turns yellow when fired under a lead glaze), is generally considered to be Pennsylvania German in origin. However, Newark’s plate shows that non-German New Jerseyans produced this ware for a wide market in Federal America.
The centerpiece of the gallery is the Grecian Vase, produced by the Trenton Potteries Company in 1904 for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in Saint Louis, Missouri. The Grecian Vase was one of four monumental vases standing over fifty-five inches tall, each uniquely decorated by hand in gold and enamel. Three of these great vases have survived, and Newark’s vase has recently had its original base returned, after having been separated from it over a century ago.
Interactive touch screens highlight the Garden State’s national importance as a pottery and porcelain center.
— Ulysses Grant Dietz, Chief Curator and Curator of Decorative Arts