Artists and Decorators of the Trenton Pottery Industry

Posted on Jan 29, 2011

Artists and Decorators of the Trenton Pottery Industry
January 29, 2011 – May 8, 2011
Opening Reception January 29 ~ 7-9 pm
Members and Exhibitors only ~ 6-7 pm
Second floor galleries

This exhibit focuses on “the best of the best,” the decorative work of the artists and artisans, known and anonymous, who worked in Trenton’s premier pottery factories during the American Belleek period from 1882 until the 1920s.

The finest hand-painted porcelain in the United States was produced in Trenton. The exquisitely painted and modeled vases, pitchers and tea sets were hand-painted and gilded by top artists working in Trenton’s ceramics industry. No two pieces were alike. Customers could order delicate porcelain artware painted with favorite scenes or family portraits. The quality of the artist-decorated pieces created in Trenton during this early period has never been exceeded by any other American pottery and rivaled the top pieces produced in Europe.

Although the pieces on display represent a number of Trenton potteries, most come from the pre-eminent firms of Ott and Brewer, Willets Manufacturing Company, and the Ceramic Art Company (which later became Lenox). The Ceramic Art Company, unlike other potteries, was originally organized as an art studio.

This work would be impossible to replicate today. Carried in the most exclusive shops, only the extremely wealthy could afford the unique, lustrous china. In 1903, for example, large Lenox-decorated vases sold for $700 to $1400 each, $30,000 in today’s dollars.

The hand-painted porcelains on display represent some of the best pieces ever produced anywhere in the world. Creations from most of the known factory artists like Bruno Geyer, George and William Morley, and Walter Marsh will be displayed as well as signed work from a few unknown artists. This is a chance to see some of the world-class porcelain that helped to make Trenton the top china production city in the United States.