Inspired by the East

As founder of Rookwood Pottery, which became the largest and longest-running pottery in the United States, Maria Longworth Nichols Storer was one of the most important figures in the American art pottery movement. Like her rival at the time, Mary Louise McLaughlin, she began her career as a china painter and embraced the French technique of barbotine. By the late 1890s, however, she began experimenting with other ceramic wares and, as was the case with so many of her French and American contemporaries, she desired to reproduce the elusive Chinese sang de boeuf (oxblood) glaze.

The present lot is an example of those efforts. Utilizing a commercially produced stoneware beaker, Storer then covered it in a lustrous, rich purple-red glaze over which she added a subtle decoration in gold luster. Storer's father, and Storer herself, were ardent admirers and collectors of Asian art. She was given a copy of Katsushika Hokusai's Manga, the inspiration of which is reflected in the dynamic expression and hair of the face depicted.