‘Women, Art, and Social Change: The Newcomb Pottery Enterprise” — the Princeton University Art Museum exhibition on view through Sunday, July 10 — is marking its midpoint with the lecture “Newcomb Pottery: Myths of Regionalism and Gender,” presented by Martin Eidelberg, professor emeritus of art history at Rutgers.
The exhibition showcases the artistic and commercial products produced during Newcomb Pottery Enterprise’s 45-year history — one that began in 1895 as an experiment of H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College in New Orleans (Tulane University’s former women’s college) as a means for Southern women to support themselves.
Its success was almost immediate, with the influential Encyclopedia of Ceramics noting in 1901:
“The result (of the enterprise) has been most satisfactory, and a large number of young women have been educated for this work, for whom an artistic vocation would have been otherwise impossible. The flora of the South has very largely furnished the motif for the decoration, the prevailing and characteristic tone of which is a bluish green. Newcomb pottery has a distinction all its own, and there is no trace in it of any previous type, either foreign or otherwise.
“That the little pottery in so short a space of time should have achieved this distinction is most remarkable, and is a proof, if proof were wanted, that both from an artistic and a commercial sense, the primary idea should be to evolve a type, rather than to imitate or reproduce.
“Some of the colored glazes are triumphs of technical skill. One of the chief charms of Newcomb ware is its absolute restfulness. It never tires the eye, and a few pieces scattered about a room give an air of repose altogether delightful.”
Martin Eidelberg’s lecture takes place in Robertson Hall 100, Princeton University, on Saturday, June 18, at 3 p.m. A reception will follow at the Princeton University Art Museum. Admission is free.
Princeton University Art Museum. Open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m. 609-258-3788 or artmuseum.princeton.edu.