National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Covered Jar Covered Jar
Rendered by John Matulis (artist), 1939
watercolor, graphite, colored pencil, and pen and ink on paper
overall: 29.9 x 20.2 cm (11 3/4 x 7 15/16 in.) Original IAD Object: 6 1/2" High
Index of American Design
Not on View
From the Tour: Pottery from the Index of American Design
Object 1 of 17

Earthenware pottery is distinct from porcelain in that it is made from a coarse, iron-bearing clay. American potters produced a variety of wares named after the color of the clay used, but by far the most common American pottery made in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was "redware," earthenware made from the red clay readily available along most of the Eastern seaboard. Red clay lay close to the surface and was easily dug; it could be worked with little difficulty and fired at a low temperature. Thus, early potters needed only simple equipment to make redware articles for colonial kitchens. Redware was used primarily at the table, for its porosity rendered it less desirable for prolonged food storage. Although most redware was produced strictly for utilitarian purposes, colonial potters would frequently put decorative designs on their products. On this jar, "1765" has been painted boldly in cream-colored slip. Slip is a clay diluted with water so that it can be applied with a brush. The numbers provide a lively contrast with the red clay as well as information as to the date of manufacture.

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