Walter Scott Lenox and American Belleek
8.00 by 10.00 in.
Designed and produced for
The Mint Museum
by Nathan W. Moehlmann,
Goosepen Studio & Press
From the foreword by Dr. Todd A. Herman, President & CEO, The Mint Museum:
In the second half of the nineteenth century, immigrants from Ireland accounted for nearly one third of all people seeking refuge in the United States. Settling mainly in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, the new arrivals included some who, because of their prior experience and skills, found employment in the American ceramics industry. Indeed, a number of Irish craftsmen played seminal roles at the enterprising Ott and Brewer, a ceramics firm in Trenton, New Jersey, that in the early 1880s created its own version of Belleek porcelain, named after the town in Northern Ireland where it was first manufactured a few decades before. The delicate white porcelain had quickly grown in popularity since David McBirney’s Belleek factory first manufactured it, and like so many stories of achievement, success bred imitators — especially in the rapidly growing retail markets of the United States. Its popularity was noted in the press: “In whatever form it is offered, the extraordinary beauty of the hues reflected or incorporated in it make it most charmingly attractive to the eye.” The anonymous writer went on to add that “it must be seen to be appreciated, being really too pretty to be aptly described.”
Walter Scott Lenox and American Belleek will be the first exhibition to focus on the early days of Belleek manufacture in America and the critical artistic influence of Walter Scott Lenox, whose name would become synonymous with fine porcelain in America. Organized by the Mint Museum and masterfully curated by Brian Gallagher, Senior Curator of Decorative Arts, the exhibition highlights the Mint’s collection of American Belleek supplemented with significant loans from institutions and private collections across America.