Rookwood Pottery, an American firm that employed exceptionally talented sculptors and decorators, produced ceramic wares and architectural faience in a variety of styles. This example, commissioned for a Cincinnati gentleman’s club, illustrates the the moment when Shakespeare's Macbeth braving a violent thunderstorm, approaches three witches at their cauldron (Act IV, Scene I). Sensing his arrival, the Second Witch warns her sisters:
"By the pricking of my thumbs, Something wicked this way comes."
This theatrical composition was intended foe viewers with a taste for art, literature, and the macabre. Specially treated and colored to suggest a foul and fetid atmosphere, the relief is skillfully modeled and richly detailed.
About Rookwood Pottery
Maria Longworth (later, Maria Longworth Nichols Storer; 1849-1932) established Rookwood Pottery in 1880. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, to a socially elite family, she was an amateur ceramics painter who exhibited at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition. While there, she examined the Japanese ceramics on display and returned home determined to apply what she had learned. Soon after founding her firm, she employed a modest staff that included business director William W. Taylor. In 1889, Rookwood won a gold medal at the Paris Exposition and in that same year Maria handed the company over to Taylor, maintaining only a distant interest. Rookwood Pottery produced unique pieces and production pottery, tiles, and architectural faience in a variety of styles over the years. Bringing in talented sculptors and decorators, the firm was internationally respected in its time and remains popular among collectors today. [Source: Jason Jacques]