InI tried to find some American art pottery that I thought might yield a return on my investment, but I ultimately purchased a piece of European art pottery. Truth be told, a lot of international art pottery is really what gets my heart pumping, as it is so diverse and often can be found at bargain prices, if you know where to look.
I’ve been fortunate enough to travel a good deal internationally, and while some folks bring back souvenirs from retail stores, I’m always hitting flea markets and antiques shops for my treasures to take back home. As such, I’ve amassed a pretty large collection.
The piece I purchased for Cowan’s was German (Villeroy & Boch - Mettlach), and my own international collection of art pottery includes Czech, French, Austrian, Hungarian, Australian, Japanese, and so on.
I’ve included a few photos of some of my favorite pieces of non-American art pottery. One of my most unique pieces is a gigantic majolica Épi de Faîtage made in Caen, France and created as a roof ornament. I believe he’s Neptune. He’s got a broken arm that needs a professional repair (on my ‘to do’ list)…but you might have a broken arm as well if you lived on a roof in Normandy. This piece is rare and wonderful and I feel very fortunate to have found him.
Another favorite is this large French fish by a company called Lejan. It is has a craquelle glaze and the pink color, and great form and size make it a real showpiece. This was a find from the Marché aux Puces St-Ouen de Clignancourt in Paris.
And then there’s my very fun Australian koala vase made by Remued. For this rare and wonderful piece of drip-glaze pottery, I didn’t travel to Australia, but just around the corner to The Garage flea market in my neighborhood in NYC. I acquired it from my Connecticut dealer friend, Travis, who sold me a cast iron French vase in Brimfield, Part 1. This pottery is rare to find in the U.S., and I knew when I spied it, it was going to be a good day.
Austria’s great contribution to art pottery, in my opinion, is certainly the Amphora pieces by Turn-Teplitz. I love the trademark combination and matte and high gloss glazes. The images are bright and fun and feel very contemporary to me, despite that most pieces are from the early 1900’s. Mostly adorned with birds and flowers, these pieces are out there and are surprisingly affordable.
As for Italy, a company called Ars Pulchra, between 1935 and 1962, made some of the best and most unique pieces. About a year ago I acquired this incredible and enormous mermaid. This piece is pure fantasy. I mean…a mermaid is conversing with an octopus. It’s just not something you’re going to see everyday. I found this in New York at the famed Pier Antiques Show, where I worked for years when I was learning the antiques business from a well-known dealer. The next Pier Show is coming up in November, and I’m sure to be there.
Finally, I have to mention Zsolnay. This Hungarian pottery company is still in existence today, and their trademark green Eosin glaze is easy to identify. I have included a photo of my favorite piece of Zsolnay, know as the “Sun Worshiper.” Her modernist lines and great finish have her looking like part grasshopper and part woman. No matter how you slice it, she’s a prize.
I could go on and on about art pottery, but at the end of the day, whether it’s American, European, or hails from anywhere else, for that matter, it feels unique and looks like something you’d enjoy having in your home, that’s really all that matters. There are tons of great pieces out there, so enjoy the thrill of the hunt.