Savin tree tiles
Terracotta with multicolored glaze
Gift of William P. Curry, Class of 1957; C.999.34.1-4
Boston’s Grueby Faience Company, founded by William H. Grueby, is perhaps the best-known New England art pottery firm and the one most often associated with the Arts and Crafts style. The reformers who led this turn-of-the-century movement—William Morris and Gustav Stickley among them—rebelled against Victorian taste. They instead advocated handcrafted furnishings with clean lines and simple, stylized ornamentation drawn from nature. Grueby’s pottery gained international recognition for its velvety matte glazes in rich earth tones. In addition to a range of sturdy handthrown pottery vessels with organic forms and plant-inspired ornamentation, the company produced a variety of glazed architectural and decorative tiles. The examples illustrated here once bordered a fireplace in Dreamwold, a lavish estate built in Scituate, Massachusetts, in 1902. The Grueby Faience Company provided the mansion with tiles for at least nine fireplaces, five bathrooms, and a conservatory. This fireplace facing design, based on a species of juniper (Juniperus sabina), was illustrated in Grueby’s tile catalogue with three plain tiles across the top; according to a 1909 price list, the entire set sold for thirty-five dollars. The flattened composition of these tiles reflects the influence of Japanese aesthetics, while their sinuous outlines relate to the European art nouveau style popular at the turn of the twentieth century.
Last Updated: 5/6/09