Description: Collection of Five Pieces of Newcomb College Art Pottery
by Joseph Meyer, ca. 1905-1915
including three graduated "Ali Baba" olive jars in green/blue, ochre and iridescent aubergine, h. 3-3/8" to 4-1/2", dia. 3" to 3-3/4", and two small bowls with two-tone gunmetal glazes, h. 1-3/4" to 2-1/2", dia. 3-1/2" to 3-3/4".
Notes: It is impossible to discuss the importance of Newcomb College art pottery without mentioning its preeminent potter, Joseph Meyer, and decorator Sadie Irvine, yet little is stated about Meyer as a ceramicist proper, or about Irvine's contribution to the Newcomb Guild.
Meyer, often regarded as the father of all Gulf Coast pottery, came from a long lineage of master French potters, who immigrated to America from Alsace and settled in Biloxi ca. 1857. After the Meyer's pottery store in Back Bay was destroyed in the August hurricane of 1860, the Meyers eventually moved to New Orleans and set up shop near City Park and founded the New Orleans Art Pottery Company. Before joining Newcomb in 1896, Meyer trained George Ohr, the eccentric Biloxi potter in New Orleans and later; while at Newcomb, at the behest of the Woodwards, he advised the young Anderson brothers on the development of Shearwater Pottery. In contrast to Newcomb's iconic slip painted pastels with botanical themes (exemplified in many of the other Newcomb lots), Meyer preferred experimental copper and red reduction glazes and fire glazes in iridescent and metallic hues, some of which are well demonstrated on these two bowls and the aubergine "Ali Baba" olive jar, named after the Persian tales, because of its shape. The range of glazes, clays, even shapes, represented in this lot is a fine example of the depth and range Meyer achieved. Meyer's experimental works were widely exhibited throughout the early 20th century in international fairs and received numerous accolades and awards, including a silver medal at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, and at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Centennial Exposition in St. Louis.
Irvine, under the direction of Robert Durant Field and potter Kenneth Smith, was formative to the development of the Newcomb Guild, which sought to produce commercially oriented pieces of functional design and form inspired by the Bauhaus movement. As the primary decorator and instructor, Irvine was largely responsible for the Guild's nine beautiful high-gloss earth tone glazes, executed with subtle tonal variations that emanate outward from the rims or bases of the bowls and vases characteristic of these two Lichen Ware and Gulf Stream Ware examples in the preceding lot.
Condition Report: **There are two chips and some light abrading to the foot rim of the blue/green olive jar, and a chip to the foot rim of the ochre olive jar - none of which are visible unless turned upside down. The aubergine jar exhibits some very faint crazing to glaze. All five are in overall very good condition with no cracks, repairs or notable losses.
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