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'Town and Country' dinnerware, designed by Eva Zeisel

'Town and Country' dinnerware, by Eva Zeisel

 

Height: 11.700 cm (teapot)
Height: 11.700 cm (teapot)
Diameter: 22.200 cm (bean pot)
Height: 11.700 cm (teapot)
Height: 11.700 cm (teapot)
Height: 11.700 cm (teapot)
Height: 11.700 cm (teapot)

Bean pot: Gift of Antony Griffiths

M&ME 1989,1-7,1-3

Room 48: Europe 1900 to now

    'Town and Country' dinnerware, designed by Eva Zeisel

    Minnesota, United States of America, designed AD 1945-46, produced from AD 1947

    Like a mother with her children

    The range is made of slip-cast earthenware in sculptural organic shapes with mix-and-match coloured glazes. It comprises a teapot, salt and pepper shakers, a lidded bean pot, a jug, a cream jug, oil and vinegar bottles, and a mustard pot.

    The Hungarian-born ceramic designer Eva Zeisel (1906-2011) worked at various factories in Hungary, Germany and the Soviet Union during the 1920s and 1930s before emigrating to the United States in 1939. She rose to public renown in 1945 after being asked to design a porcelain dinner service for the Museum of Modern Art. This commission, from the Red Wing Pottery, followed shortly afterwards. The shapes of the pieces, although abstract, have human qualities, particularly in the way they nestle together. The designer liked to think of them as a mother with her children or as a family of friendly creatures.

    The range, designed just after the Second World War (1939-45) is evidence of a shift towards more informal lifestyles, reflected in its name, taken from a popular magazine, and the unconventional quirky shapes and the mix-and-match colours. Customers could even buy lids in contrasting colours. Intended to be practical but light-hearted, the vessel forms are compulsively tactile. They have an affinity with contemporary abstract organic sculptures by artists such as Hans Arp (1886-1966) and Henry Moore (1898-1986).

    J. Rudoe, Decorative arts 1850-1950: a catalogue of the British Museum collection, 2nd ed. (London, The British Museum Press, 1994)

    M. Eidelberg, Design 1935-1965: what  modern was: selections from the Liliane and David M. Stewart Collection (New York, 1991)

    S. Gauthier and T. Préaud, Ceramics of the twentieth century (New York, 1982)

    M. Eidelberg, Eva Zeisel: designer for industry, exh. cat. (Montreal, Musées des Arts Décoratifs, 1984)

    J. Rudoe, Decorative arts 1850-1950: a c, 2nd ed. (London, The British Museum Press, 1994)

    M. Eidelberg, Design 1935-1965: what modern (New York, 1991)

    S. Gauthier and T. Préaud, Ceramics of the twentieth cent (New York, 1982)

    M. Eidelberg, Eva Zeisel: designer for indus, exh. cat. (Montreal, Musées des Arts Décoratifs, 1984)

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    On display: Room 48: Europe 1900 to now

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