Artus Van Briggle at Holmes Ranch near Colorado Springs c. 1897. He is seated at a work bench crafting the present form, which was one of his earliest designs.

Margaretta M. Boas Photograph Collection, Courtesy of Pikes Peak Library District, 001-358

Artus Van Briggle 1869–1904

Born to a long line of artisans on March 21, 1869 in Felicity, Ohio, Artus Van Briggle showed promise as an artist from a young age. At seventeen he moved to Cincinnati, a hotbed of American ceramics, to apprentice under Karl Langenbeck at Avon Pottery. By 1887 he was working at Rookwood Pottery where he expanded his skills in painting, modeling clay, and making molds.

Van Briggle’s star rose quickly at Rookwood. They sent him to Europe in 1893 to study at the Académie Julian and then the prestigious Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris. His time in Paris proved to be both life-changing and formative; he met his future wife, Anne Lawrence Gregory, and developed an interest in fourteenth century Chinese Ming glazes during his trips to Paris museums. Van Briggle returned to Cincinnati in 1896 and resumed his work at Rookwood, while in his spare time doggedly attempting to revive the lost Chinese art of dead matte glazes.

By 1898 he had finally achieved success and a few pieces of his matte glaze pottery fired at Rookwood were shown to great critical acclaim. Professional triumph coincided with a worsening of his tuberculosis. It is unknown when he contracted the disease, but his declining health forced him to leave Rookwood for the warm, dry climate of Colorado Springs, Colorado in 1899.

Van Briggle continued his ceramic experiments in Colorado, designing, casting, and firing the pieces almost entirely by himself. His work began to appear in magazines and newspapers by the end of 1901, with critics praising both its quality and artistry. The individuality of his pottery, with its innovative combination of modeled Art Nouveau-inspired forms and masterful glazes, intrigued and excited viewers. He rapidly achieved international success; his entire twenty-four piece entry to the 1903 Paris Salon was accepted and he was awarded two gold, one silver, and twelve bronze medals. He then exhibited at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Centennial Exposition in St. Louis, handily winning two gold, one silver, and two bronze medals, and would have won the grand prix if not for a rule prohibiting it being awarded to a first-time exhibitor.

Tragically, Van Briggle succumbed to tuberculosis during the St. Louis exposition. His wife, Anne, became president of the Van Briggle Company in 1905 and it went on to operate until 2012, at which time it was the oldest continually operating art pottery in the United States. Though the pottery achieved some successes after his death, it is widely agreed that the earliest pieces, those made during Artus’ lifetime, are of the highest caliber.

Auction Results Artus Van Briggle

VAN BRIGGLE POTTERY, Lorelei vase | ragoarts.com

Van Briggle Pottery

Lorelei vase
estimate: $3,000–4,000
result: $6,875

VAN BRIGGLE POTTERY, Large early vase | ragoarts.com

Van Briggle Pottery

Large early vase
estimate: $6,000–8,000
result: $6,250

VAN BRIGGLE POTTERY, Dos Cabezos vase, fine and rare iridescent purple glaze | ragoarts.com

Van Briggle Pottery

Dos Cabezos vase, fine and rare iridescent purple glaze
estimate: $6,000–8,000
result: $5,625

VAN BRIGGLE POTTERY, chalice | ragoarts.com

Van Briggle Pottery

chalice
estimate: $4,000–6,000
result: $5,525

VAN BRIGGLE POTTERY, Large early vase | ragoarts.com

Van Briggle Pottery

Large early vase
estimate: $4,000–6,000
result: $5,313

ARTUS VAN BRIGGLE FOR VAN BRIGGLE POTTERY, Rare and Large vase with yucca seed pods | ragoarts.com

Artus Van Briggle for Van Briggle Pottery

Rare and Large vase with yucca seed pods
estimate: $3,000–4,000
result: $4,688

VAN BRIGGLE POTTERY, Rare tile with geese | ragoarts.com

Van Briggle Pottery

Rare tile with geese
estimate: $2,000–3,000
result: $4,688

ARTUS VAN BRIGGLE FOR VAN BRIGGLE POTTERY, Rare and Early vase with spiderwort | ragoarts.com

Artus Van Briggle for Van Briggle Pottery

Rare and Early vase with spiderwort
estimate: $3,000–4,000
result: $4,225

ARTUS VAN BRIGGLE FOR VAN BRIGGLE POTTERY, Early vase | ragoarts.com

Artus Van Briggle for Van Briggle Pottery

Early vase
estimate: $1,200–1,600
result: $4,063

VAN BRIGGLE POTTERY, Early vase | ragoarts.com

Van Briggle Pottery

Early vase
estimate: $2,000–3,000
result: $3,750

ARTUS VAN BRIGGLE FOR VAN BRIGGLE POTTERY, early vase with tulips | ragoarts.com

Artus Van Briggle for Van Briggle Pottery

early vase with tulips
estimate: $1,000–1,500
result: $3,500

ARTUS VAN BRIGGLE FOR VAN BRIGGLE POTTERY, Early vase with peacock feathers | ragoarts.com

Artus Van Briggle for Van Briggle Pottery

Early vase with peacock feathers
estimate: $2,500–3,500
result: $3,380

VAN BRIGGLE POTTERY, Rare vase with lizards | ragoarts.com

Van Briggle Pottery

Rare vase with lizards
estimate: $1,500–2,000
result: $3,250

VAN BRIGGLE POTTERY, Early vase | ragoarts.com

Van Briggle Pottery

Early vase
estimate: $1,750–2,250
result: $3,125

ARTUS VAN BRIGGLE FOR VAN BRIGGLE POTTERY, early vase with Virginia creepers | ragoarts.com

Artus Van Briggle for Van Briggle Pottery

early vase with Virginia creepers
estimate: $2,500–3,500
result: $3,072

ARTUS VAN BRIGGLE FOR VAN BRIGGLE POTTERY, Early vase | ragoarts.com

Artus Van Briggle for Van Briggle Pottery

Early vase
estimate: $1,200–1,600
result: $3,000

ARTUS VAN BRIGGLE FOR VAN BRIGGLE POTTERY, Early vase with arrowroot | ragoarts.com

Artus Van Briggle for Van Briggle Pottery

Early vase with arrowroot
estimate: $2,200–2,800
result: $2,860

ARTUS VAN BRIGGLE FOR VAN BRIGGLE POTTERY, Early vase with poppies | ragoarts.com

Artus Van Briggle for Van Briggle Pottery

Early vase with poppies
estimate: $2,500–3,500
result: $2,860

ARTUS VAN BRIGGLE FOR VAN BRIGGLE POTTERY, Early vase | ragoarts.com

Artus Van Briggle for Van Briggle Pottery

Early vase
estimate: $1,000–1,500
result: $2,750

ARTUS VAN BRIGGLE FOR VAN BRIGGLE POTTERY, Early vase | ragoarts.com

Artus Van Briggle for Van Briggle Pottery

Early vase
estimate: $1,500–2,000
result: $2,750

ARTUS VAN BRIGGLE FOR VAN BRIGGLE POTTERY, Early vase with leaves | ragoarts.com

Artus Van Briggle for Van Briggle Pottery

Early vase with leaves
estimate: $1,500–2,000
result: $2,750

VAN BRIGGLE POTTERY, Early vase | ragoarts.com

Van Briggle Pottery

Early vase
estimate: $1,500–2,000
result: $2,625

ARTUS VAN BRIGGLE FOR VAN BRIGGLE POTTERY, early vase with Virginia creepers | ragoarts.com

Artus Van Briggle for Van Briggle Pottery

early vase with Virginia creepers
estimate: $2,500–3,500
result: $2,500

VAN BRIGGLE POTTERY, Massive vase | ragoarts.com

Van Briggle Pottery

Massive vase
estimate: $1,000–1,500
result: $2,500