The Metropolitan Chapter of the Victorian Society in America

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Elevating the Potter’s Art: James Carr & His New York City Pottery

October 12, 2020 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Display of James Carr, a Father of the American Ceramics Industry, at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial


Monday, October 12, 2020

6:00 PM – 7 PM EST on Zoom

Post-Event Update: A video recording of this lecture can be found here.

English immigrant potter James Carr (1820–1904) operated a factory on Manhattan’s west side from 1855 to 1889. Like other American pottery manufacturers, he struggled against great odds to make a variety of ware, including parian and majolica, that could compete with foreign goods. Determined to succeed, he experimented with materials and processes, hired leading modelers and decorators, and collaborated with artists and sculptors. Regarded by early ceramics curator Edwin AtLee Barber as “one of the fathers of the American ceramics industry,” Carr would be all but forgotten had he not taken pains to ensure his own legacy in ways that will seem familiar today: depicting popular themes and celebrities, participating in important exhibitions, placing key works in museum collections, managing his own narrative and exit.

Design historian Caroline Hannah, Ph.D., examines the life and work of this enterprising potter through the trail of little known extant ceramic works and lively autobiographical accounts. “The story of his life,” as ceramics historian Jennie J. Young wrote in 1878, “is the history of modern American pottery.”


October 12, 2020
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm