Newcomb College Art Pottery Vase , 1930, decorated by Anna Frances Simpson with a relief-carved moon and moss laden cypress tree design, base marked with Newcomb cipher, decorator's mark, Jonathan Hunt's potter's mark, shape no. 326 and reg. no. SE16, h. 6 3/4 in., dia . 3 in. Provenance: Neal Auction, Nov. 20, 2010, lot 366.

  • H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College (Newcomb College) of New Orleans was one of the earliest educational institutions to be associated with the Arts and Crafts Movement. It shared many of the movement’s goals, such as creating opportunities for women in the arts. Newcomb Pottery, founded in 1895, was the brainchild of Ellsworth Woodworth, who taught drawing and painting at Newcomb College, and his brother William, an artist and professor at Tulane University who was especially interested in developing a pottery program at the college. The quasi-commercial venture offered Southern women the ability to support themselves financially during and after their artistic training. The Woodward brothers hired Mary Given Sheerer, who had studied at both the Cincinnati Art Academy and the Art Students League of New York, as Instructor of China Decoration and Design, and she was an important influence on the direction of the pottery. Newcomb Pottery soon evolved a cohesive style. Although some of the early work occasionally utilized other colors, a combination of blues and gray became the pottery’s distinctive hallmark. The subject matter was determined from the start by Woodward and Sheerer. Sheerer famously declared: “the whole thing was to be a southern product, made of southern clays, by southern artists, decorated with southern subjects!” Conventionalized designs inspired by the flora and fauna of the South, often highly abstracted and almost always composed in repeating patterns, dominated Newcomb Pottery’s output. Ultimately, Newcomb College’s ceramic program was among the most successful art potteries, and it enjoyed an almost fifty-year run. The resulting body of work is considered one of the most significant collections of American art pottery of the twentieth century, and the pieces each offer insight into the extraordinary women who created them. Ref.: Main, Sally, Adrienne Spinozzi, et al. The Arts and Crafts of Newcomb Pottery. New York: Skira Rizzoli, 2013.
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