Artists & Designers
Grueby Faience Company (American, 1897-1919)
Trained at Low Art Tile Works in Revere, Massachusetts, William Henry Grueby (1867-1925) entered a partnership with Eugene Atwood to create a subsidiary of Fiske, Homes and Company, a Boston management company specializing in architectural tile and related products, in 1891. For the next three years, Grueby and Atwood focused on the production of architectural faience wares, including tiles in popular revival styles. Following Atwood's departure around 1894, Grueby continued working in this vein, formally incorporating the Grueby Faience Company in 1897. In establishing his new concern, he enlisted the assistance of two individuals with connections to the Boston architectural scene, George R. Prentiss Kendrick (1850-1919) and William H. Graves (1867-1943). In 1897, the exhibition of Grueby's ceramic vessels, along with tiles, at the "First Exhibition of the Arts and Crafts" in Boston signaled the arrival of the firm into the rapidly growing domestic market. In 1898, the publication of an article on Grueby's designs in House Beautiful documented these first-year efforts, characterized by vegetative forms and heavy glazes.
Perhaps in response to the organic sensibilities of these works, also embraced by French potters Auguste Delaherche (1857-1940), Jean Carriès (1855-1894), and Ernst Chaplet (1835-1909), French dealer Siegrid Bing began to represent Grueby Faience Company in Europe shortly before the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1900. Grueby's success at the exposition lead to a number of important associations for the firm, including a multi-year relationship with Gustav Stickley's Craftsman Workshops. Although wildly successful in America, a series of disastrous financial and technical setbacks beginning in 1907 led to supply challenges and a reduction in the firm's art pottery efforts from which it was never able to recover. In 1919, the C. Pardee Works purchased the Grueby firm, then known as the Grueby Faience and Tile Company, incorporating their tile production facilities into their own.
Kevin Tucker, DMA unpublished material, 2008.