One of my fears as I get older (yes, because I'm so old now...) is that I can't remember things. I've always been a little on the scatterbrained side--walking into rooms and not remembering why, being easily distracted by shiny objects--those sorts of things. Sometimes I worry about it more than others because I'm in a field where memory is incredibly important and being able to recall facts about who made what when is one of the cornerstones to the art history field. So, I was incredibly happy when I went to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts this past week and was able to rattle off names of makers as I wandered through the decorative arts galleries.
Hmmm... that looks like Knox silver (it was). That's a Royal Worcester plate. That's a Greene and Greene chair. That looks like Hannah Barlow. And it was Hannah Barlow! From Doulton Lambeth Art Pottery. I was pretty excited to remember this because I just learned about Hannah Barlow and her sisters this semester in my ceramics class. They were just decorators, not makers, because this was before the movement toward the potter being an all-in-one. Hannah, as you can see above, had a very sketch-book like style of decorating. She incised the clay, using it much more like a canvas than a vessel. The result are well-executed, warm, happy animals in a variety of scenes. Her work is friendly to me. Something I would like in my home to remind me of nature. And that's probably exactly why it was popular in its heyday.
And in case you were wondering, I was in Minneapolis to visit the new headquarters of the American Craft Council and their library to do research for my thesis. The new headquarters are quite lovely, in a fantastic old beer brewery building, and everyone was very friendly. I highly recommend a visit.