Francis Bedford H. Maye, Day & Son, Lithographers, London. Terra Cotta Figure of Galatea & Group of Majolica Garden Vases, 1852. Lithograph. Bard Graduate Center Library.

Susan Weber
will deliver The Majolica International Society Lecture on Thursday, April 25, at 6 pm. Her talk is entitled “’Cisterns in Which a Man Might Bathe and Flower Vases in Which One Might Rear an Oak’: Minton’s Majolica in the Golden Age of Exhibitions 1851–1894.”

Minton was the leading British pottery for the production of majolica in the nineteenth century. The Great London Exhibition of 1851 was the initial showcase for Minton & Co.’s majolica. It would take rival firms close to a dozen years to imitate and to compete with Minton & Co.’s majolica production. Disciples of Minton at Josiah Wedgwood & Son and George Jones of Trent Pottery would run a fierce battle for recognition of their majolica works. These competing ventures would vie for optimal display placement, medals, and reviews and coverage in newspapers, local journals, and guidebooks as well as retail and wholesale sales at international and national fairs, which were the greatest promotional vehicles of the nineteenth century. No other British or American venture came close to Mintons’ majolica in exhibition numbers, scale of works, or investment. They understood the importance of showcasing their ceramics in order to guarantee a high level of recognition and promotion for their excellent products as part of their advertising apparatus. This lecture explores Minton & Co.’s non-stop participation in what was known as “the golden age of exhibitions.” Their creation of monumental designs in majolica to showcase the artists, designers, and modelers of the firm to attract critical and public attention is examined from their first showing in 1851 until the 1890s, when majolica mostly disappeared from the field. Exhibition displays, distinguished patrons, and museum acquisitions are also covered.

Susan Weber is Founder and Director of the Bard Graduate Center, where she is the Iris Horowitz Professor in the History of Decorative Arts. She is the author of The Secular Furniture of E. W. Godwin (1999) and editor and contributing author of the catalogue E. W. Godwin: Aesthetic Movement Architect and Designer (1999). She has coauthored and served as editor to numerous exhibition catalogues including Thomas Jeckyll: Architect and Designer, 1827–1881 (2003), Castellani and Italian Archaeological Jewelry (2004), James “Athenian” Stuart, 1713–1788: The Rediscovery of Antiquity (2006), and William Kent: Designing Georgian Britain (2013). She is the recipient of many awards, including the Soane Foundation Honors from Sir John Soane’s Museum Foundation (2010), the Philip C. Johnson Award of the Society of Architectural Historians (2005), and the College Art Association’s Alfred H. Barr Jr. Award (2015). She co-curated the exhibition John Lockwood Kipling: Arts & Crafts in the Punjab and London.