Majolica Mania: Transatlantic Pottery in England and the United States, 1850–1915, an exhibition and accompanying publication, will create new awareness and appreciation for nineteenth-century English and American majolica. Colorful, wildly imaginative, and technically innovative, this ceramic ware was functional and aesthetic, modern and historicizing. Its subject matter reflects a range of Victorian preoccupations, from botany and zoology to popular humor and the macabre. The exhibition will consider the considerable impact of majolica, from wares used in domestic conservatories and dining rooms to monumental pieces displayed at the World’s Fairs.

Organized by Bard Graduate Center (BGC) and the Walters Art Museum (WAM), Majolica Mania is curated by Dr. Susan Weber, Founder and Director of BGC; and Dr. Jo Briggs, Jennie Walters Delano Curator of 18th- and 19th-Century Art, WAM. The exhibition will be on view at BGC Gallery from January 16, 2021 to May 16, 2021, and at WAM from June 20, 2021 – January 2, 2022.

As the first major exhibition of this material in nearly four decades, Majolica Mania will present the diverse output of the originators and major manufacturers in England, such as Minton, Wedgwood, and George Jones (a subject that has been championed by a few scholars and many collectors), as well as the other British potteries that emerged to capitalize on the craze. The migration of English craftsmen to the United States and the increasing demand for majolica, in turn, encouraged production of this ware by important makers in New York City, Trenton, Baltimore, and the Philadelphia area.

Approximately 350 objects will be drawn from major private collections in the United States as well as from leading public collections in America and England, including the Brooklyn Museum, Maryland Historical Society, Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, and The Wedgwood Museum. Loans to the exhibition will elucidate the following themes: the introduction of majolica by Minton at the Great Exhibition of 1851; an exploration of how majolica was made; design sources, including historical styles and Asian art, as well as the natural world; the importance of botany and conservatories in the Victorian home; new foods and fashions of the table; important artists and sculptors who designed majolica; the progression of majolica as shown at the great World’s Fairs of the second half of the nineteenth century; major producers of majolica in Britain and the United States; humor and popular culture; and the end of majolica in the early twentieth century resulting from reforms related to limiting lead poisoning in the workplace.
Curated by Susan Weber, Founder and Director, Bard Graduate Center, and Jo Briggs, Jennie Walters Delano Associate Curator of 18th- and 19th-Century Art, Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. Organized by Bard Graduate Center Gallery and the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, Majolica Mania: Transatlantic Pottery in England and the United States, 1850–1915 will be on view at the Walters from June 20, 2021 – January 2, 2022.

Majolica Mania: Transatlantic Pottery in England and the United States, 1850–1915 is made possible by Deborah and Philip English, the Bernard Malberg Charitable Trust, the Abra and Jim Wilkin Fund, and the Gary Vikan Exhibition Fund, with the generous support of Marilyn and Edward Flower, Amy Cole Griffin, Darci and Randy Iola, James and Carol Harkess, Maryanne H. Leckie, The Lee B. Anderson Memorial Foundation, the Thomas B. and Elizabeth M. Sheridan Foundation, Inc., the Robert Lehman Foundation, and the Women’s Committee of the Walters Art Museum, with additional support by Carolyn and Mark Brownawell, Lynn and Phil Rauch, George and Jennifer Reynolds, Carol and George E. Warner, Michael and Karen Strawser / Strawser Auctions, Laurie Wirth-Melliand and Richard Melliand, William Blair and Co., Drs. Elke C. and William G. Durden, Wanda and Duane Matthes / Antiques from Trilogy, Joan Stacke Graham, Robin and Andrew Schirrmeister, Karen and Mike Smith, and other generous donors to the Bard Graduate Center and the Walters Art Museum.

Special thanks to the Majolica International Society.