Jazz Bowl or New Yorker


Viktor Schreckengost ( American, 1906 - 2008 )


Cowan Pottery Studio ( American, 1912 - 1931 )

c. 1930–1931
more object details

General Description

The first Jazz Bowl was created in 1930 when Cowan Pottery received a commission through Brownell-Lambertson Gallery to produce a "New Yorkish" punch bowl on behalf of one of their clients. Viktor Schreckengost, a new designer to the firm, was assigned the task, and his result became a monumental canvas in the round, upon which he conveyed a cubist-inspired vision of an evening's indulgences in New York City. Unbeknownst to Schreckengost, his client was Eleanor Roosevelt, who had ordered the bowl as a gift in anticipation of her husband's successful bid for the presidency. This example is from the first series that followed the success of the Roosevelt commission. Its sgraffito decoration was scratched into the the ceramic body after the bowl had been coated in a dark mixture of glaze and slip; then the images of skyscrapers, streetlights, cocktails, and musical instruments were set aglow with an "Egyptian blue" glaze. The azure colors suffuse Schreckengost's dynamic assembly with an energy that echoes the frenetic pace and syncopated rhythms of 1930s American jazz. The final application of the glaze enhances the depth and energy of the images, and, as Schreckengost described, reflects that "funny blue light in New York in 1931 when Cab Calloway's band was playing."

Adapted from

  • Bonnie Pitman, ed., Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection (Dallas: Dallas Museum of Art; New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2012), 267.

  • DMA unpublished material.

Fun Facts

  • Pleased with the results of her request, Eleanor Roosevelt ordered two additional examples (current whereabouts of these and the first example remain unknown), and the Brownell-Lambertson Gallery soon thereafter requested a limited number of similar punch bowls.

Web Resources

Cleveland Museum of Art
Watch a video about the Schrenkengost's Jazz Bowl.