May 7, 2001

Rookwood and the Industry of Art Topic of Program at Anderson Branch Library May 19 with author Nancy Owen

Rookwood Pottery�the largest, longest lasting, and arguably most important producer of American art pottery�won the grand prize at the Paris World�s Fair of 1900. At the time, it meant that it was the most highly regarded pottery in the western world. How did it get to bankruptcy in 1941 and go out of business by the 1960s?

Author Nancy E. Owen will discusses the rise and fall of Rookwood Pottery (1880-1967) at the Anderson Branch Library, 7450 State Road, on Saturday, May 19, 1:00 p.m. as she discusses her recent book Rookwood and the Industry of Art: Women, Culture, and Commerce, 1880-1913. Ms. Owen will also examine the ways in which the production and consumption of American art pottery both reflected and influenced the cultural and commercial worlds in the United States.�

Rookwood Pottery was founded by Cincinnatian Maria Longworth Nichols, who, after seeing Japan�s ceramic display at the Centennial, obtained backing from her wealthy father to produce her own pottery, named after the family�s country estate. Rookwood fired its first kiln in 1880, and the pottery soon flourished under the direction of William Watts Taylor, who brought it international acclaim.

While Rookwood�s founder benefited from publicity keyed to a woman running a business and using female workers, Taylor downplayed that association. Rookwood potters worked long ten and a half-hour days, and wages�of $3.00 a week�were exceedingly low for the 1880s. It eventually filed for bankruptcy in 1941, and subsequently closed in 1967. �The company failed because Taylor�s successors were unable to adapt their policies and philosophy to the changing circumstances,� said Ms. Owen. �They found it impossible to sell Rookwood as anything other than art.�

Nancy E. Owen is a lecturer in American art and women�s studies at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. She lives on the north shore of Chicago with her husband, Bill James.

Copies of her book will be available for purchase after the program, and a book signing follows. For more information contact the branch at 369-6030.



Interpreter available upon request for the hearing impaired.� Please call

369-6944 (TDD 369-6946) at least one week before program.


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