Our weekly top 10 list continues with Rookwood Pottery artists. These are my favorite decorators of Rookwood.
1. Carl Schmidt
Carl Schmidt was born in 1875 and began decorating vases at Rookwood in 1896. He worked at Rookwood Pottery until 1927. Mr. Schmidt’s Venice harbor scenic vases and iris glaze vases are exceptional and have a lifelike presence that is unparalleled in American art pottery history. Typical motifs for Rookwood Iris glaze vases by Carl Schmidt include wisteria, iris, and tulip flowers.
2. Kataro Shirayamadani
Probably the most recognized name in Rookwood Pottery history is Kataro (Sherry) Shirayamadani who was born in 1865. He started decorating pottery at Rookwood in 1887 and except for a couple of short periods of time, worked at the pottery until near his death in 1948. While all of Kataro’s work is highly sought after by collectors, several of his black iris vases are on the top 10 list for prices realized for Rookwood Pottery.
3. Sara Sax
Ms. Sax joined the decorating staff at Rookwood Pottery in 1896 and worked there until 1931. Peacocks and peacock feathers were common decorating motifs for Rookwood vases decorated by Sara Sax. Ms. Sax’s French Red vases are absolutely exceptional and rank as my favorite glaze line. For some unknown reason, Rookwood’s French Red was used almost exclusively by Sara Sax. However, Ms. Sax is recognized as having mastered many of the Rookwood glaze lines. Ms. Sax also has the distinction of being at the forefront of the Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and Arts and Crafts Movements at Rookwood Pottery.
4. William Hentschel
Mr. Hentschel worked at Rookwood between 1907-1939. If you like matte glazed and carved arts and crafts vases, William Hentschel’s work is as good as it gets. Equally impressive are Hentschel’s Ombroso glaze vases. William Hentschel is also considered to be one of the best Art Deco designers at Rookwood as evidenced by his matte moderne vases.
5. Arthur Conant
Arthur Conant was born in 1889 and died in 1966. He worked at Rookwood pottery between 1915 and 1939. My favorite Arthur Conant Rookwood vases are his colorful decorated porcelain scenic vases with plants, flowers and animals. Conant’s use of color and composition is unlike most other Rookwood decorators and is not what most would consider typical Rookwood.
6. Artus Van Briggle
Artus Van Briggle worked at Rookwood between 1887 and 1893. After studying in Paris for 3 years, Artus returned to Rookwood where he stayed until sometime in 1900 or 1901 when he moved to Colorado Springs and formed Van Briggle Pottery. During his time at Rookwood, Artus specialized in Dull Finish, Standard Glaze, Sea Green, Relief Iris and my personal favorite hand-carved, almost three-dimensional relief Modeled Mat vases.
7. Albert Valentien
Albert Valentien was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1862. He became a decorator at Rookwood Pottery in 1881. Mr. Valentien worked at Rookwood until 1905. Albert Valentien excelled in a variety of Rookwood glaze lines including Dull Finish, Standard glaze and the Iris Glaze line. It has been reported that in 1905, Albert Valentien became the first decorator to paint a scenic landscape on a Rookwood vase.
8. Grace Young
Rookwood Pottery decorator Grace Young is noted for her exceptional, life-like Native American portrait vases and plaques. Ms. Young currently holds several spots on the list of top prices realized for Rookwood Pottery sales at auction. It seems every time I see one of her Native American portrait vases at auction I can’t help but stand and stare.
9. Harriet Wilcox
Harriet Wilcox was one of the few Rookwood decorators who became proficient in the rare painted matte glaze line. Ms. Wilcox is also one of few Rookwood decorators other than Sara Sax to work with the French Red glaze line. Harriet Wilcox worked at Rookwood Pottery between 1886 and 1907.
10. Charles Todd
I have to admit I really struggled with number 10 on this list. There certainly are a lot of other Rookwood decorators that could and probably should be on this list but I love arts and crafts Rookwood and on a good day Charles Todd put out some impressive carved matte vases. Mr. Todd is also known for his work with the Ombroso glaze line. His Rookwood Ombroso vases often have a strong arts and crafts presence.