In 1877 the thirty-year-old artist Mary Louise McLaughlin wrote China Painting, the first manual on the subject in the United States written by a woman for women. Extremely successful, it is now accepted as the book that launched the china painting movement in America.
When in 1898 McLaughlin decided to produce porcelain, the most difficult of ceramics, she showed the determination and exactitude that were her trademarks. Already renowned as a ceramicist, she became the first to produce studio porcelain in America and the first to discover the technique for decorating under the glaze. Her work was welcomed with enthusiasm in New York and Paris.
Despite the enormous influence of Mary Louise McLaughlin on the history of American ceramics, Anita Ellis's The Ceramic Career of M. Louise McLaughlin is the first definitive study dedicated to her accomplishments.
Anita Ellis depicts the many challenges McLaughlin encountered in pursuit of her ultimately successful career. Not the least of these was her rivalry with the formidable Maria Longworth Nichols, fellow Cincinnatian and founder of the Rookwood Pottery Company. Another was that of being a woman in the arts: her primary goal had been to paint portraits on canvas, but Victorian society did not afford opportunities in what was considered a male sphere.
Replete with historic photos and color illustrations of many of McLaughlin's works, The Ceramic Career of M. Louise McLaughlin is a tribute to a woman artist who rose to one of the most esteemed positions in her field.
Deputy director of curatorial affairs at the Cincinnati Art Museum, Anita J. Ellis is the author of Rookwood Pottery: The Glorious Gamble, which won the Florence Roberts Head Book of the Year Award, and Rookwood Pottery: The Glaze Lines.
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