Founded in 1880 by Maria Longworth Nichols, Rookwood pottery is a favorite of art pottery collectors for the quality of its pieces, which were hand-decorated by a diverse group of artists (though some simpler pieces were mass-produced, especially during the Depression).
Rookwood pieces were sold at the factory showroom in Cincinnati, Ohio, and at jewelry and department stores nationwide. Drawing from European and Asian styles, the company was very involved with the Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau movements, and its pieces are still prized as some of the best examples of those styles.
In addition to its signature vases, Rookwood also produced architectural tile and smaller items such as bookends, paperweights, and figurines. There were between 20 and 25 artists decorating pieces at the Rookwood factory at any given time; some of the most notable included Kataro Shirayamadani, Albert Valentine, Sara Sax, and Jens Jensen.
Rookwood’s artists were innovative and helped change the way art pottery was created and designed. Kataro Shirayamadani covered entire pieces with decoration versus just the front as was previously done, while Laura Fry created the atomizer, allowing artists to evenly apply glazes and use color gradations. In the early 1900s, Rookwood artists began using matte finishes and vellum glaze, a translucent matte glaze.
Collectors should note that the vast majority of Rookwood pieces are clearly marked. Early pieces say “Rookwood” and later pieces (starting in the mid-1880s) feature the Rookwood logo, which features a backwards R and P side-by-side. Rookwood closed its factory in the 1960s, but the copyright was continuously enforced. Then, in 2004, the company was revived in Cincinnati, where today Rookwood artisans continue to produce everything from vases to mugs to candlesticks.
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Inspired Interiors: Arts and Crafts take center stage in 2016Indianapolis Star, February 5th
The new collection includes calla lily vases and pine cone trays right out of the turn of the 20th century, the glory years of Rookwood Pottery of Cincinnati. Rookwood tiles can be seen surrounding many Indianapolis fireplaces, in Grand Central Station...Read more
Historic Reiss murals get fresh updateCincinnati.com, February 5th
The Winold Reiss industrial murals are monuments to making. Each of the 23 mosaics is a testament to man and machine in Cincinnati. The quiet dignity of both work and the worker celebrated in thousands of brightly colored tiles. But these are not ...Read more
Hand-painted porcelain holds its valueWinston-Salem Journal, February 5th
Shirayamadani (1865-1948) was a Japanese artist at Rookwood Pottery in Cincinnati. Rudolph T. Lux (1815-1868) decorated white porcelain with portraits ordered by important politicians and businessmen in New Orleans, and William Powell (working 1900 ...Read more
2 Cincinnati restaurants among most romantic in nationWXIX, February 2nd
"Dine in a breathtaking 1930s French Art Deco setting with two-story Romanesque murals, Brazilian rosewood, German silver-nickel sconces & an original Rookwood pottery fountain," the website's listing states. "Orchids features modern American cuisine ...Read more
The seeds of an art collectionSalina.com, January 31st
As the art collection grew, shelves were built near the bins to hold rare books and pieces of Rookwood pottery. It was an indulgence proprietor James Smalley allowed his son Carl, who gave up college to work in the family business but refused to...Read more
Names From History: Kitaro Shirayamadani brought Japanese artistry to ...WCPO, October 27th
CINCINNATI -- Most Cincinnatians had never seen anyone like 22-year-old Kitaro Shirayamadani when he arrived here in 1887 to throw and decorate pots for Maria Longworth Nichols' Rookwood Pottery. For one, he was Japanese, by several accounts the ...Read more
Rookwood Pottery to open boutique at Liberty CenterWLWT Cincinnati, October 12th
Like the Rookwood Pottery Co. store in downtown Cincinnati, the front of the store will carry art pottery. The back of the store will include a space for architectural installation displays and consultations, the company said. Rookwood's first retail...Read more
Rookwood Pottery CEO Wade exits roleCincinnati.com, April 28th
Martin Wade is leaving management of day-to-day operations at the Rookwood Pottery Co. Wade, 65, gathered Rookwood employees Monday to inform them of his exit, according to sources with knowledge of the meeting. He has served as the company's ...Read more