University Collections of Art and History

Object Record

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Catalog Number 2015.40.1
Object Name Vase
Description Stoneware vase having a bottle-shaped body with a short neck, buff-colored body covered in a thin white glaze with six pairs of leaping fish painted in iron-brown slip with incised details.

Bernard Leach (1887-1979) was a British potter, author, and teacher who is Britain's most famous potter of the twentieth century and is considered by many to be the father of the studio pottery movement (studio pottery is hand-made by artists working in an craft as opposed to a factory setting).

Leach potted in Japan and at St. Ives, in Cornwall, in Southwest England. He worked closely with Shoji Hamada, who was perhaps the leading Japanese potter of the twentieth century, and was also a major figure in the development of the studio pottery movement. Leach's work was influenced by Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Medieval English pots, and stressed the importance of design and hand-craftsmanship.

This vase, decorated with leaping fish, is considered one of Leach's most iconic designs. He is thought to have made about fifty of the vases. The shape and white surface are inspired by Chinese ceramics of the Song Dynasty (960-1279), which were highly prized in the mid-twentieth century, especially by modernists who appreciated its clean lines and simple decoration that were so different from the more elaborately decorated porcelains of the later Ming and Qing dynasties. The fish are painted in an iron slip, and Leach wrote that he painted each in one quick, fluid brushstroke.
Year Range from 1960
Year Range to 1970
Material Stoneware
Place of Origin Made in St. Ives, England
Artist Bernard Leach
Collection The Reeves Center
Credit line Museum Purchase with Funds Provided by W. Groke Mickey
On View Watson Pavilion, Japanese Tea Room