This piece is one that I’ve had for quite a while. I was probably about sixteen when I bought it at a local antique shop tucked away in a strip mall. Prior to buying the plate, I had stared longingly at it in a century-old curio cabinet for almost a year. At $35, it was an expensive purchase, considering I didn’t know why I wanted it in the first place. What high schooler would? By that point it didn’t matter, though. I had already racked up a nice little collection of antiques. I decided not to question it. Now that seven years have passed, I am thrilled to have the plate.
This Limoges plate was imported by the United States as a blank and decorated at a branch of the Pickard Studio in Chicago. For a brief overview of early Pickard, check out the articles by Claire Masters and Dennis Barker. To learn about the evolution of the company, watch this video:
George W. Stahl was the Pickard artist who painted my plate. A German immigrant and master of his trade, he only worked at Pickard for two years before moving on to assist porcelain decorators Edward W. Donath, Julius Brauer, and Robert W. France. Working for Brauer was a little controversial. A former Pickard artist himself, Brauer was notorious for luring artists away from Pickard to work at his own private studio. David Lackey gives a great synopsis of this issue on an episode of Antiques Roadshow.
It seems that morning glories, like those on my plate, were one of Stahl’s signature flowers to paint. Since owning this piece, I’ve seen a few other examples on the market.
Stahl’s subtle signature is on the front of the plate. On the back, there is an underglaze Limoges manufacturer’s mark that dates after 1891. The overglaze Pickard decorator’s mark dates between 1903 and 1905. This coincides with the time that Stahl spent working at Pickard. During those years, the studio was housed at the Carriage Barn in Chicago. The barn, located on Whiting Street (now Walton Street), was one of few buildings to survive the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.
Stahl not only painted, but made painting a more efficient practice. You know those little paint wells that palettes in every basic art set have today? You can thank George W. Stahl. In 1921, he patented the “paint package,” which provided a sealed reservoir in which to house and separate ceramic paint colors for extended periods of time. You can view Stahl’s entire patent application online.
I think that does it for this post. Do you own anything that was decorated at Pickard?