Master of Her Craft
Adelaide Robineau's Exquisite Porcelains
The design of this lamp base was inspired, as so many of Adelaide Robineau's creations were, by the nature surrounding her home and studio at Four Winds. She depicted totemic stylized owls in black, as they would be seen silhouetted against a night sky, interspersed with fields of blue glaze dotted with white resembling twinkling stars. Atop it all would have been a glowing light bulb representing the moon. Night descended through her family to Lois Kelley Stout, the wife of Robineau's grandson Dana Robineau Kelley, and has only been through two sets of private hands since leaving Ms. Stout's ownership.
Night is a tour-de-force on par with her Peruvian Serpent Bowl of 1917 or The Urn of Dreams of 1921 and exhibits one of the primary qualities of her work from this period, namely a preoccupation with abstracted, repeating figures or patterns of Mayan, Incan, or Native American derivation. She was a notoriously diligent and determined craftswoman, having spent upwards of 1,000 hours carving her 1910 masterpiece, Scarab Vase (alternately, and appropriately, titled The Apotheosis of the Toiler), which won a grand prize at the Turin International Exposition in 1911. The present lot is characterized by many of the same hallmarks, from deft carving to a superb balance of form, decoration, and creative glazing, perfected over more than a decade and a half of patient and continuous experimentation.
By the 1920s, Robineau was an internationally renowned ceramist, revered and admired by everyone from Charles Binns and Taxile Doat to her students. Night is yet another enduring reminder of her inimitable talent, ambition, and legacy.
Of her life she made a precious alabaster jar
And filled it with the healing balm
Of her hearts interest for all, near and far,
She helped us mold clay, mind and heart,
Gave us inspiration to go out in the world
And faithfully try to do our part.
Like God, she demanded our best,
And by giving it, we were greatly blessed.
She was ever in our thoughts then, as she is now,
And to her beautiful memory, we lovingly bow.
Student Anna M. Walling's poetic tribute to Adelaide Robineau
after the artist's death in 1929