European Origins and Transatlantic Exports: Tin-Glazed Earthenware in North America

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Historic Deerfield presents a three-day forum on the European production of tin-glazed earthenware and its exportation to North America. The practice of tin glazing spans a thousand years of history, from its beginnings in Mesopotamia in the 9th century to the decorative technique’s eventual spread to Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Great Britain, and the New World.  Tin-glazed pottery (also known as maiolica, faience, delftware, and gallyware) was covered in a lead glaze containing tin oxide which rendered it opaque white.  The pottery body, usually made of red or buff-colored earthenware clay, with its coating of white glaze was often used to imitate more expensive Chinese porcelains.  Serving as food and beverage vessels, storage containers, tiles, drug jars, and lighting devices, tin-glazed earthenware from almost every production center in Europe was transported to the New World's settlements in North America. This program brings together a diversity of perspectives and experience on the subject of this ceramic type and examines the North American market in a broader manner than ever before. 

Speakers will include:

Dr. Tânia Manuel Casimiro, Post-Doctoral Researcher at the Institute of Archaeology and Paleosciences, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, on Portuguese faience;

Femke Diercks, Junior Curator of European Glass and Ceramics at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, on Dutch Delftware;

Leslie B. Grigsby, Senior Curator of Ceramics and Glass at the Winterthur Museum, on archaeological evidence of English and Continental tin-glazed earthenware in colonial America;

Amanda Lange, Curatorial Department Chair and Curator of Historic Interiors at Historic Deerfield, on the technology of tin-glazed earthenware, its history, and early production;

Dr. Margaret Connors McQuade, Assistant Director and Curator of Decorative Arts at the Hispanic Society of America in New York City, on Spanish and Mexican maiolica;

Wendy Watson, Curator of the Mount Holyoke Art Museum on Italian Renaissance maiolica;

Elizabeth Williams, Curator of Decorative Arts and Design at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum in Providence, Rhode Island, on French faience. 

Optional, hands-on workshops will be offered on Friday, November 15th. 

For more information about the program or to receive a brochure, please contact Julie Orvis at or 413-775-7179.