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Newcomb Pottery

Newcomb pottery, also known as Newcomb College pottery, was a highlight of the American Arts and Crafts Movement of the late 19th century. Emphasizing organic motifs and hand-styled vessels, Newcomb pottery can trace its origins to an innovative studio nestled in the heart of America's deep south.

Newcomb pottery began in the hallowed halls of H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College, a women's college in New Orleans that is now part of Tulane University. As part of the college's efforts to educate forward-thinking young women, they opened an arts program in the late 1880s, with the pottery department opening shortly thereafter. William and Ellsworth Woodward, as well as Mary Given, who soon after hired a remarkable range of potters including the iconic Joseph Meyer, led the studio. The potters assisted with the program and created pieces for public sale produced by professionals and students alike.

Following the Arts and Crafts aesthetic, Newcomb potters used earthen-hued glazes and organic patterns to draw out the artisanal aspects of their pieces. Many looked directly to the Louisiana landscape for their inspiration, channeling local blooms into their designs. It is this refreshingly simple approach that makes Newcomb pottery still so beloved today.

Quick Facts

  • Joseph Meyer's Newcomb pottery pieces won him numerous awards, including a silver medal at the Louisiana Purchase Centennial Exposition in 1904
  • The sheer number of exceptional potters working in the Newcomb studio made it one of the most prolific studios in the late years of the 19th century. More than 70,000 marked Newcomb pieces have been documented
  • So celebrated is the tradition of Newcomb producers that the Smithsonian Institute organized a traveling exhibition that showcases solely Newcomb pieces

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