Pitcher, 1891

Daisy (Bellis perennis)
Shape No. 450

Glazed white clay Rookwood Pottery, Cincinnati, 1880–1967
Decorator: Kataro Shirayamadani, 1865–1948
17 1/4 x 7 1/2 in. (PO-021-68)

Brilliant, lifelike yellow daisies adorn this 1891 pitcher from Rookwood Pottery. Floral designs were the most common subject matter for the Cincinnati art pottery in this era. The firm and its artists were compelled to respond to the fervor for nature in the second half of the 19th century. Resources were newly available to help artists create accurate renderings. Horticulture and botany became serious areas of study as the international trade of plants exploded with colonial expansion. For decades, botanists had been busy observing and recording species. Advances in photography also allowed for precise documentation of plants and flowers in various stages of growth and development. As on this pitcher, the botanical subjects were featured using what became known as the Standard glaze, which changes from brown, red, and yellow in subtle, harmonious gradations. The glaze reflected a revived appreciation for the light, shadow, and atmospheric techniques of Renaissance painting by modern landscape painters. This so-called Tonalism, a blending of deep colors with softened smoke-like tones, helped emphasize the subject.