Art of German Stoneware 1300-1900
From the Charles W. Nichols Collection and the Philadelphia Museum of Art
Author: Jack Hinton is assistant curator of European decorative arts and sculpture at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
Publisher/Date: Philadelphia Museum of Art/Yale University Press. (c. 2012) Published on the occasion of the exhibition.
Format/Condition: New paperback book with French flaps in Fine condition. 60 pages, Profusely illustrated with 90 color and 1 black-and-white. Map.
Description: This book was Published on the occasion of the exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, May 5 to August 5, 2012. The exhibition examined German stoneware from its origins to later revivals in the nineteenth-century and celebrates its long-standing relationship with the city of Philadelphia.
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. The medium’s success is due to its stonelike durability and imperviousness to liquid, making it perfect for cooking, storage, and drinking vessels.
From the fourteenth through eighteenth centuries, stoneware ceramics from German speaking 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.
During the Renaissance the addition of brilliant salt glazes as well as relief imagery that communicated with the user—raised the status of these wares. 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. These later examples with more unusual, original forms retained broad cultural significance. One example, Inkstand and Candleholder with Musicians, Animals, and a Griffin demonstrates 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.
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.