"Free Form" shape teapot with "Primitive" pattern decoration


Viktor Schreckengost ( American, 1906 - 2008 )


Salem China Company ( American, 1898 )

designed 1955
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General Description

Between 1925 and 1965, American potteries reached their peak in both production and importance in the marketplace. Serving this industry were many world-famous designers, among them Viktor Schreckengost. Developed to fit the casual lifestyle that had developed in post-World War II America, the Free Form line is characterized by non-traditional shapes - cups that stand on three legs and oval-teardrop-form salt and pepper shakers, among others. The teapot with its loop handle, tripod feet, and extended spout is the most avant-garde piece in this line. Several of the decorative patterns applied to these forms were also unusual. Primitive is loosely derived from the imagery of prehistoric cave painting, most famously seen at Lascaux. Interestingly, the manufacturer hoped this pattern would appeal to male consumers, rather than their female counterparts, who represented the vast majority of ceramics buyers.

Adapted from

Charles L. Venable, Ellen P. Denker, Katherine C. Grier, Stephen G. Harrison, China and Glass in America, 1880-1980: From Tabletop to TV Tray (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2000), cat. 198, 467.

Web Resources

Khan Academy
See prehistoric cave paintings in Lascaux, the type of prehistoric art that inspired the "Primitive" pattern.