Van Briggle Pottery was founded in Colorado Springs in 1901 by a husband-and-wife team (well, not technically, since Artus and Anne didn’t marry until 1902) who had been decorators for Rookwood Pottery of Cincinnati. The most prized Van Briggle pieces are pre-1910, with “AA” (for Artus and Anne) incised on their bottoms. Because Van Briggle used molds for its pieces, production was able to continue long after Artus’s death in 1904. The company is still producing classic Van Briggle designs today.
The acclaim accorded Van Briggle was almost instantaneous. The same year he founded his pottery, Van Briggle took first prize at a show in Paris. The Louvre paid a whopping $3,000 for the winning piece of a male nude wrapped around the opening of a vertical vase. Titled “Despondency,” the piece would become one of Van Briggle’s most famous vases.
In fact, Van Briggle is probably best known for its vases. The “Lorelei” vase, also from 1901, is like a female version of “Despondency,” while “Lady of the Lily” from the same year depicts a female nude leaning against an enormous calla lily. Figurative and floral motifs were a mainstay of the company’s visual vocabulary, although the pottery also produced a number of jugs, whose sides were populated by spiders and spider-like decorations.
One of the other hallmarks of Van Briggle was its luscious satin matte glaze. Hues ranged from Turquoise Ming (still produced today) to a maroon glaze called Persian Rose. Van Briggle was also highly regarded for its architectural tile, which decorated fireplace hearths, chimney tops, and wall fountains.
After some ownership changes in the 1910s, Van Briggle regrouped and continued to produce tall and squat Art Nouveau vases with philodendron, iris, and other floral motifs. Animal figurines became an important part of the company’s line, be it as purely decorative objects and modestly functional ones—elephant bookends, especially in pink, were quite popular. And dragonflies, which had captured the fancy of Tiffany, Lalique, and other designers, also graced the sides of Van Briggle vases.
In the 1930s and ’40s, matching oak-leaf-and-acorn candlesticks shared catalog pages with quarter-moon vases, lamp bases with coordinated shades, and seashell planters, which were sold in the postwar years in 8-, 12-, and 16-inch lengths. Another category of Van Briggle pottery from that era was the American Indian ware, which ranged from tall vases crowned by relief heads of stern-looking braves to small objects depicting Hopi maidens.
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Twentieth-Century DesignMaine Antique Digest, September 1st
A 1902 deep blue Van Briggle vase, 7¾" tall, decorated with a poppy, sold on the phone for $15,000 (est. $4000/5000). The market for George Ohr is active. There were some good but small and not great examples, and they generally sold within estimates...Read more
Rago to Auction 2400+ Lots of Estate and Unreserved Property on September ...ArtfixDaily (blog), August 20th
The sale begins with early 20th c. design, including pottery by George Ohr, Marblehead, Grueby, Teco, Van Briggle, Martin Bros., Rookwood, Fulper, Roseville and Weller; furniture by Stickley and Roycroft; glass by Lalique, Galle and Daum; and lighting...Read more
MAINE TWO-DAY ESTATES AUCTIONMaine Antique Digest, August 8th
LAMPS: Van Briggle Persian rose “Grape” patt. Art Pott. lamps w/dried flower shade, Vic. cranberry hang. hall lamp, Choice ant. ruby jeweled & leaded glass tbl. lamp, Vic. sm. hd. ptd. G.W.T.Wind oil lamp w/owl & moon design, Art Pott. lamp w/lovebirds...Read more