The American Art Tile in Charlotte, North Carolina
The decades surrounding 1900 were the golden age of the American art tile. Whether glazed or unglazed, molded in relief or smooth-surfaced, decorative tiles were a popular medium among many affluent consumers wishing to furnish their homes and businesses in the latest fashions. The tiles were used as fireplace surrounds, wall hangings, and for a wide variety of other ornamental purposes, both interior and exterior and manufacturers across the country produced tiles to satisfy their local clientele and others.
The popularity of art tiles for embellishing American architectural settings dates to the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, where visitors had an opportunity to see superb examples of the form. For the remainder of the nineteenth-century, many middle-class and wealthy consumers sought out American art tile companies to embellish their homes and businesses. In turn, those companies enjoyed success for about 50 years until the economic strain caused by the Great Depression and restrictions imposed during World War II forced many companies out of business.
On view through December 29th at the Mint Museum in Charlotte, NC, The American Art Tile: 1880-1940 presents an array of tile types in the American Decorative Arts Gallery produced by different companies and displayed around the Gallery’s permanently installed fireplace surround depicting the story of The Arkansas Traveler. Major themes of the various tiles include artistic figures, geometric and stylized patterns, and nature studies.
This installation features approximately forty tiles from The Mint Museum’s permanent collection, including the permanently installed fireplace surround, Arkansas Traveller, modeled and designed circa 1916 by Henry Chapman Mercer of Moravian Pottery & Tile Works, Doylestown, Pennsylvania (top photo).
Are you wanting to know more about American Art Tile but can’t make it to this exhibition before it closes at the end of the month? We have just the thing! Tile historian, author and enthusiast Richard Mohr (bottom photo) is giving a talk entitled, The Secret Life of Tiles — And Tile Collectors, at the upcoming National Arts & Crafts Conference February 21st – 23rd at the Grove Park Inn. Gain firsthand experience about tile collecting from one of the most well-traveled tile collectors to date and enjoy stories from his adventures during this Sunday morning seminar!
For more information on the National Arts & Crafts Conference, please visit www.arts-craftsconference.com and register today! And for more information on the exhibit The American Art Tile: 1880-1940, please visit www.mintmuseum.org