Dr. Susan Weber delivered The Majolica International Society Lecture on Thursday, April 25, at 6 pm. Her talk was 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 & Co., Britain’s leading ceramics manufacturer, introduced majolica to the public at London’s Great Exhibition in 1851. This innovative ware, with its vigorous modelling and vibrant glazes inspired by Italian and French Renaissance ceramics, caused a veritable sensation amongst critics and connoisseurs alike. The head of the firm, Herbert Minton, and his successor, Colin Minton Campbell, understood the vital role of international exhibitions in generating critical recognition and stimulating trade. No other British or American pottery expended the resources that Minton & Co. did to showcase its majolica in terms of numbers of exhibitions, scale of works, novelty of designs, and lavishness of display. Such investment yielded numerous medals of distinction, copious press reviews, and widespread acclaim.

This lecture will explore Minton & Co.’s creation of monumental majolica, which was executed by some of the foremost artists and modelers of the period for display at world’s fairs. Examining the firm’s continuous participation in these events, widely considered the greatest promotional vehicles of the nineteenth century, Dr. Weber will share new discoveries, discuss distinguished patrons, and address museum acquisitions in the context of what was known as the “golden age of exhibitions.”

Dr. 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.

Bard Graduate Center gratefully acknowledges support of this lecture series by the Officers of the Majolica International Society: Duane and Wanda Matthes, Co-Presidents, as well as support by Deborah and Philip English.