Zanesville Museum Acquires Rare Vase

By
Susan Talbot-Stanaway

Dateline
Updated Sun, Jan 6, 2013 12:03 am
Photo Credit: 
Zanesville Museum of Art

The Zanesville Museum of Art has announced the purchase of a historic Weller Pottery vase, made in Zanesville in 1903, to be displayed in the famous Weller Theatre. 

The Weller Theatre, owned by Samuel A. Weller, opened April 27, 1903, at 13 North Third Street in Zanesville.

At 33 inches in height, the newly acquired vase was the largest of three displayed for the opening. The size and condition cannot be matched by any other Weller Sicardo vases known to exist.

This remarkable vase was purchased at the Humler & Nolan public auction in Cincinnati on Dec. 1. It is now on view in the Museum Lobby. 

The metallic luster finish and stylized floral decoration were characteristic of Weller’s most costly and distinctive line, "Sicardo," made between 1902 and 1907. 

This acquisition will be the centerpiece of the Museum’s collection of over 3,000 pieces of pottery made in Zanesville. The collection honors Zanesville’s position as a dynamic center of American ceramic design and production from the 1870s through the 1950s.

The vase had been the property of Arthur and Rita Townley, Mich. The Townleys had been faithful attendees of Zanesville’s Pottery Lovers week for many years. 

After Mr. Townley’s death in 2011, the family decided to discharge the estate through public auction.

In 1901, Samuel Weller hired Jacques Sicard to produce a new line of exquisite art pottery. The line was named "Sicardo" after the artist. 

The process of creating the glowing colors of "Sicardo" was extremely difficult and remains a secret until this day. Jacques Sicard was French and had studied metallic luster glazing (called Reflets Metalliques) during a long period of employment with Clément Massier in Vallauris, France.

The pottery from Massier’s shop was sold at the famous Bing Gallery in Paris and epitomized the Art Nouveau movement in Europe and the United States. 

It took Sicard more than a year to achieve the results he sought. Despite the enthusiasm of critics and artists like Louis Comfort Tiffany, the Sicardo line was not profitable. Successfully glazed pieces were extremely difficult to produce, and there was a high percentage of breakage or misfiring in the kilns.

In addition, the professional and personal relationship between Weller and Sicard was turbulent. Weller Pottery discontinued the line, and Sicard returned to the south of France in 1907.

The Weller Theatre held 1700 seats on three floors. It was elaborately decorated, including a huge stage drop curtain designed and painted by Cincinnati artist John Rettig. 

George M. Cohan, Victor Herbert, and Ignace Paderewski all performed in the historic theatre and Broadway plays and operas were also presented. 

The Zanesville Museum of Art is located at 620 Military Road in Zanesville. Visit www.zanesvilleart.org for more information.

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