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Aesthetic Ambitions: Edward Lycett and Brooklyn's Faience Manufacturing Company

17 September 2011 - 26 February 2012

Mint Museum Randolph 


Portrait of Edward Lycett, from The Marks of American Potters



The ceramics produced by the Faience Manufacturing Company (1881-1892) embodied the style of the Aesthetic Movement. Its vivid and intricate art pottery displayed a fusion of Eastern influences. During the 1880s, these pieces were praised as ceramics that "surpassed everything previously produced in this country." Edward Lycett, an English china painter who became the artistic director of the company in 1884, was responsible for much of the firm's commercial and artistic success.


Organized by the University of Richmond, this collection of work displays the superior craftsmanship and artistry of the pottery as well as the synthesis of cultures in their design that is characteristic of the Aesthetic Movement. The exhibition includes objects from public and private collections, and archival items to further illuminate Lycett's life and work. Curated by Barbara Veith, independent scholar of American ceramics and glass, and a former Research Associate at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a catalogue of the exhibition will also be available. A lecture by Barbara Veith on Edward Lycett and the Faience Manufacturing Company of Brooklyn is below: 





  • The Aesthetic Movement, also known as  Aestheticism,  was a 19th century movement, begun in Great Britain that thought art should exist for its own sake. An aesthetic experience was considered independent and unrelated to any other experience. 
  • Edward Lycett (1833-1910), considered the "father of China painting in America", became the Company's artistic director in 1884. Formerly at Spode, he came to New York City in 1861. 
  • Elite retailers of the East and West coasts, including Tiffany & Co., promoted the firm's wares.  
  • Lycett supervised a team of talented artists, including James Callowhill who had been with the English firm Royal Worcester Porcelain . The Mint Museum holds other work decorated by Callowhill as well.
  • Edwin A Barber's Marks of American Potters from 1904, accessed through Google Books, provides some information on Edward Lycett's life and work. 
  • More detail on his life can be found in this article from The China Student's Club newsletter - a review of a lecture on Lycett by Veith.


Selected Print Resources in The Mint Museum Library

  •  Bolger Burke, Doreen.  In Pursuit of Beauty: Americans and the Aesthetic Movement. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art: Rizzoli, 1986.
    • The catalogue which accompanied the Metropolitan's exhibition on the Aesthetic Movement in the United States. 
  • Everson Museum of ArtAmerican Ceramics: the Collection of Everson Museum of Art. New York: Rizzoli; Syracuse: The Museum, 1989.   
    • This book illustrates the Everson Museum of Art's extensive collection of American pottery and porcelain and its introductory essay places Lycett and the Faience Manufacturing Company in context with other manufacturers of the period such as Rookwood, Grueby and Tiffany. 
  • Levin, ElaineThe History of American Ceramics, 1607 to the Present: From Pipkins and Bean Pots to Contemporary FormsNew York: H.N. Abrams, c1988. 
    • This book is full of information and pictures detailing the evolution of American ceramics, starting in 1600 and leading up to the Post-modern period 1975-87. 
  • Perry. Barbara Stone.  On the Surface, Late Nineteenth-Century Decorative ArtsCharlotte: Mint Museum of Art, 2001. 
  • Robin, SpencerThe Aesthetic Movement: Theory and Practice.  London: Studio Vista, 1972. 
    • This book discusses the Aesthetic movement and its influence, especially in Great Britain.  
  • Veith, Barbara. "Edward Lycett and the Faience Manufacturing Company". The Magazine Antiques, July 2001. 
    • This article is a very informative and in-depth look Lycett and the company. It is difficult to find information on Lycett, therefore this is a valuable resource.  
  •  Additional titles may be found in the Mint library's online catalog, MARCO




This page was created by Catherine Craig, Intern for The Mint Museum Library