National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Pennsylvania German Dish Pennsylvania German Dish
Rendered by Eugene Shellady (artist), c. 1938
oil paint on paperboard
overall: 43.6 x 37.9 cm (17 3/16 x 14 15/16 in.) Original IAD Object: 13 3/8" Dia 2 9/16" High
Index of American Design
Not on View
From the Tour: Pottery from the Index of American Design
Object 4 of 17

Many of the surviving redware pieces are those that were made with special care and intended primarily for decorative purposes. The earliest redware was almost purely utilitarian, but gradually ornamentation emerged as an integral part of the potter's craft. The Pennsylvania Germans, in particular, were known for their elaborately decorated pottery, as exemplified by this slip-decorated plate. Here the potter has trailed on a design of blue, black, and yellow slips, which contrast vividly with the red clay background. Slip designs of this kind were beaten into the moist clay body to smooth and level the surface before firing. The symmetrical design, composed of floral and star motifs, is characteristic of Pennsylvania German art. The large, bold forms in the center of the plate are framed by a carefully lettered border in German that says, "Fortune or misfortune is our breakfast every morning, 1796, 18th of August."

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