Viktor Schreckengost Deskey Art Pottery Rare
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Directory: Vintage Arts: Decorative Art: Ceramics: American: Pottery: Pre 1940: Item # 158952
Mark Bassett (aka 'potterybooks')
Author of Understanding Roseville Pottery
P.O. Box 771233, Lakewood, OH 44107
This 8" x 4" Peasant Ware serving bowl is a prototype that Cleveland artist Viktor Schreckengost designed in 1932 for American Limoges. The service was never produced, because the china company thought the designs were too heavy and too radically modern.
For a 1934 exhibition of contemporary industrial arts and crafts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), Donald Deskey requested that Viktor provide some samples in a gunmetal black and an oyster white glaze. They were shown that year as part of a Deskey dining room setting. (See Henry Adams, VIKTOR SCHRECKENGOST AND CONTEMPORARY DESIGN, Cleveland Museum of Art, 2000, pages 99-100, or visit www.clevelandart.org/viktor.) This bowl, which is the closest thing in the service to a vase shape, was probably suggested by VS for use as a centerpiece in the Metropolitan exhibition.
Now 99, Schreckengost is still painting in watercolor and teaching advanced students at the Cleveland School (now Institute) of Art. He studied ceramics under Guy Cowan and designed the art deco icon of the machine age, The Jazz Bowl. For most of the 1930s he was the only staff designer for American Limoges (Sebring, Ohio), and during the 1940s and 1950s for Salem China Company. His work is in the collections of most major American museums, and he has won countless awards.
Peasant Ware was designed to look hand-made (thrown on a potter's wheel). In reality, it was molded, meaning that the interior ridges had to be aligned so that the would remain sharp when the mold was pulled away from the ceramics.
Very few examples of these prototypes have survived. One group decorated with stripes in earth tones is in the artist's collection.
Signed VIKTOR SCHRECKENGOST with a stylus (at the time of manufacture, but after glazing and firing). No chips, hairlines, or repairs. (There are a few grayish or whitish spots, which were just thin area of glaze, allowing the clay to show through, plus one pin-prick-sized nick on the inner rim.)
As you can see, this design predates Frederick Hurten Rhead's well-known Fiesta (for Homer Laughlin) by about 4 years.
Anyone who finds (or owns) other examples is asked to contact me.