Pewabic Pottery among the Peacocks: The Partnership of Charles Lang Freer and Mary Chase Perry-Stratton

By Rinck, Jonathan | Ceramics Art & Perception, March 2013 | Go to article overview

Pewabic Pottery among the Peacocks: The Partnership of Charles Lang Freer and Mary Chase Perry-Stratton


Rinck, Jonathan, Ceramics Art & Perception


THE PEACOCK ROOM IS ONE OF THE MOST WELL-KNOWN products of the 19th century aesthetic movement, perhaps largely because of the story of its creation. American artist James McNeil Whistler painted the room in 1876-1877 which, at the time, belonged to the London home of Frederick Leyland. Although he was only supposed to retouch a botched paint job by a previous artist, Whistler famously gave the room a complete makeover while Leyland was away. Upon his return, Leyland was mortified and fired Whistler, but this did not stop the tenacious Whistler from returning and adding the now famous peacocks on the wall. In 1904, the room (and the Whistler paintings it contained) was acquired by Charles Freer and brought to the US, where it eventually became the centrepiece of the Freer Art Gallery. Freer purchased the room specifically to display his collection of Asian pottery. But Freer also used the room to display the ceramic pottery of Mary Chase Perry-Stratton (1867-1961). In fact, Perry-Stratton's ceramics were the only works by a contemporary artist that Freer ever displayed in the room. Although the Peacock room is mostly associated with Whistler, Perry-Stratton's ceramics once assumed a visibly robust presence in their own right.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Perry-Stratton founded Detroit's Pewabic Pottery in 1903, a pottery studio that, in the utilitarian spirit of the Arts and Crafts movement, produced functional yet beautiful ceramic tiles, vases, bowls, lamps, plates and even hairpins. Her first experience with art came in the form of Chinese vase painting and her later work was conspicuously reminiscent of the Asian works Charles Freer collected. Shortly after meeting Freer, Perry-Stratton quickly fell under his influence. (1) He even inspired her to develop her famous metallic iridescent glaze for which Pewabic pottery became internationally famous. (2) The glaze was evocative of seventh century Near-Eastern glazes and Freer purchased some of her first iridescent works. (3), (4)

After viewing the ancient Asian pottery in Freer's collection, Perry-Stratton was surprised at how similar it was to her own work; her pottery was uncannily similar to Japanese and Korean Racca jars in particular, much to her amazement and delight. (5) "How often", she wrote, "we found wholly by chance something I had done was in line with what he happened to be looking for at the time, but there was no conscious copying of the pottery of a thousand years ago." (6) Perry-Stratton quickly became one of Freer's favourite artists and the only living artist to later have works displayed in the Peacock Room.

In 1911, Freer commissioned Perry-Stratton to furnish the tile of the fireplace in the Whistler Gallery in his home on East Ferry Avenue, Detroit. (7) Perry-Stratton's subdued, earth-toned colour palette nicely blended with the Asian-inspired Whistler paintings on display. As was typical for Pewabic Pottery, each of her tiles was just a bit different than the rest, slightly rounded around the edges, lending each tile an emphatically handmade appearance in keeping with the spirit of the Arts and Crafts movement. The fireplace for the Freer House Gallery can still be seen at the house's original location. It remains one of the earliest Pewabic tiled surfaces.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Ceramic work by Perry-Stratton also decorated Whistler's famed Peacock Room. (8) After Freer moved the room to his Detroit mansion, Perry-Stratton even created a special celebratory vase commemorating the occasion, ornamenting the sides of the vase, appropriately enough, with images of peacocks painted under the vase's gold, iridescent glaze. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Pewabic Pottery among the Peacocks: The Partnership of Charles Lang Freer and Mary Chase Perry-Stratton
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.