Aesthetic Ambitions: Edward Lycett and Brooklyn’s Faience Manufacturing Company

Opens with Curator-Directed Tours

At 2 p.m. on Saturday, 17 September, the Mint Museum will open Aesthetic Ambitions: Edward Lycett and Brooklyn’s Faience Manufacturing Company with curator-guided tours. Aesthetic Ambitions presents  unique examples of American art pottery from the late 1800s.  It will  be on view at the Mint Museum Randolph until 26 February 2012.

In addition to the guided-tours, the Mint Museum Randolph will host a  lecture on the exhibition on Tuesday, September 20 at 10:30 a.m.   Barbara Veith, organizing curator of the exhibition, will detail  Lycett’s tremendous influence as the artistic director of the Faience  Manufacturing Company. The lecture will be held in Van Every Auditorium.


During the 1880s, the Faience Manufacturing Company (1881-1892), of  Greenpoint, Brooklyn, earned critical acclaim for producing ornamental  wares that introduced a new standard of excellence in American ceramics.  These bold and eclectic wares displayed a synthesis of Japanese,  Chinese, and Islamic influences characteristic of the Aesthetic Movement  style. The firm owed its artistic and commercial success to Edward  Lycett (1833-1910), an English china painter who became its artistic  director in 1884.

Edward Lycett immigrated to New York City in 1861. His early career  included a White House commission to paint additional pieces of the  Lincoln administration’s porcelain dinner service for President Andrew  Johnson.  He held teaching positions in St. Louis, Missouri, and  Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1884, Lycett began his employment with the Faience  Manufacturing Company, where he experimented with ceramic bodies and  glazes, and designed opulent wares. He supervised a team of talented  artists, including James Callowhill (1838-1917) of the English firm  Worcester Royal Porcelain, who decorated the vessels with exotic motifs  in vibrant hues and costly gold paste. Lycett and his team of decorators  produced pieces that were sold in the foremost jewelry and china shops  throughout the United States, such as Tiffany & Company in New York  and Bailey, Banks and Biddle in Philadelphia.

Nearly forty superb objects drawn from public and private collections  will be on display, including vases, ewers, plates, and other  decorative wares. The objects illustrate Lycett’s talent and  adaptability to stylistic changes over the course of his nearly  fifty-year career. Also on view in the exhibition are Lycett’s formula  books, family photographs, and ephemera that illuminate the life and  work of this prominent figure in American ceramic history.

The exhibition is organized and circulated by the University Of  Richmond Museums, Virginia. A fully illustrated catalogue with an essay  by the exhibition’s curator Barbara Veith, independent scholar of  American ceramics and glass, New York, is available for purchase in The  Mint Museum Shops.