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The Potteries of Trenton Society (POTS), in collaboration with the Trenton Historical Society and the Trenton Museum Society, is pleased to announce that Brian Gallagher, Senior Curator of Decorative Arts at the Mint Museum of Art, will be the speaker for the POTS 2023 annual meeting on Saturday afternoon, April 22 at 1:30 pm (Eastern Time). Gallagher will give us a sneak peek of his upcoming exhibition entitled “Walter Scott Lenox and American Belleek.” The exhibition opens in Charlotte, North Carolina on September 23, 2023. Gallagher will be joined by long-time Trenton ceramics collector Bob Cunningham. Together with moderator Ellen Denker, they will explore collecting American belleek, past and present. The Mint’s exhibition will feature more than eighty works drawn from the museum’s permanent collection and notable U.S. public and private collections. A fully-illustrated catalog will accompany the exhibition. The exhibition will remain on view at the Mint until January 21, 2024.
Belleek is an art ware made of a refined porcelain body distinguished by an unusually high feldspar content. This material gives the body a special strength that permits the making of extravagant shapes. The body possesses a translucency when fired that heightens the visual effect of glazes and gilding, and it is often finished with a glaze reminiscent of mother-of-pearl. The ware was developed in Ireland in the mid 1850s and the technique brought to America in the early 1880s. Trenton’s own Ott & Brewer was the first American company to make belleek under the artistic direction of Walter Scott Lenox. In 1884, Lenox moved to Willets Manufacturing and, in 1889, founded Ceramic Art Company (later Lenox). These were the premier makers of belleek in America.
Gallagher joined the curatorial staff of the Mint Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2007. He holds an M.A. and an M.Phil. from Bard Graduate Center, New York. Before joining the Mint, Brian was Assistant Curator in the Department of European Art at the Detroit Institute of Arts. He has organized and managed numerous exhibitions during his museum career on a variety of topics including British ceramics, American brilliant cut glass, North Carolina pottery, Chinese export porcelain, and modern decorative arts shown at world’s fairs. He has authored two books about the renowned British ceramics collection at the Mint Museum.
Long-time ceramics collector Bob Cunningham will join the conversation following Gallagher’s remarks. Cunningham is retired after forty years of working for the New Jersey Department of Transportation in design, planning and environmental areas. He started collecting American brilliant cut glass and soon after expanded his table top interest to Lenox China because it was a local Trenton company with a fascinating history and an international reputation as purveyor to presidents and kings. From there he broadened his attention to other historic Trenton ceramics companies focusing on 19th-century belleek and parian.
This virtual event is free and open to the public, but reservations are required. Make your reservation on Eventbrite at the following address: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/american-belleek-webinar-tickets-575029357287. Follow instructions on the reservation page to get your Zoom link.