Born in 1867 in Boston William Grueby was a businessman first and a potter second for many years. After forming the Grueby Faience Company in 1894, his love for American art pottery soon took center stage.
Before he was able to move on with the business of doing what he was passionate about, he had to secure financing for this new company. He’d found an ally of sorts in Allan Marquand, who was a professor of Art and Archeology as well as the director for the art museum on the Princeton University campus. He’d provided Marquand with an intricate model of what he wanted to do. If he was hoping to appeal to Marquand’s own passion for art pottery to link them, it worked; however, the proposal Grueby provided Marquand lacked specific information for really important aspects of establishing a new company in any sector, such as what the needs might be for heavy machinery or how many employees he might have needed to hire in the beginning. As Susan Montgomery writes in The Ceramics of William H. Grueby, “Grueby attached a typewritten resume, written in the third person, which summarized his technical achievements…” Despite the proposal’s shortcomings and the setbacks, Grueby was able to move forward and soon had two partners on board.
Two well-recognized companies contracted Grueby for inclusion in their various offerings. Tiffany Studios, known for its spectacular lamps, used Grueby’s art for more than a few of its lamp bases. Meanwhile, Gustav Stickley began using Grueby tiles in its tables, benches and even a few of its vases.
Soon, Grueby art pottery was winning awards and being recognized around the world at various exhibitions, including the Architectural League of New York, 1895, the Exposition Universalle in Paris- where he was awarded two medals in 1900, and the Buffalo Pan American Exhibition in 1901. All of the company’s submissions were hand thrown and surprisingly, many were decorated by art students within Boston’s art community.
To this day, Grueby remains most known for the lovely green glazes that many say put it on the map and ensured it would be remembered as one of the country’s most beloved art pottery makers.