Frederick Hurten Rhead, the vase’s designer, was born in Staffordshire, England, to a family of potters. He was educated at the Wedgwood Institute and the Stoke-on-Trent Government Art School, after which he apprenticed with his father at Brownfield Pottery.1 Leaving England in 1902, Rhead first worked at several Ohio potteries, including Weller, prior to becoming Roseville Pottery’s art director from 1904 to 1908. Rhead brought with him a keen knowledge of the English arts and crafts movement and was heavily influenced by the likes of Walter Crane, Owen Jones, and Lewis Day. These influences, particularly the patterns by Jones, are readily seen in the controlled manner in which Rhead handles the stylized floral decorations on the vase. Rhead also introduced Roseville Pottery to the sgraffito technique.

The large size and intricacy of this vase makes it an important and rare example of Roseville Pottery. Until l910, the pottery operated out of both Roseville and Zanesville, which lend their names to the Rozane wares that became a popular and successful line. The second half of the vase’s title was inspired by the Renaissance Florentine sculptor Luca della Robbia, who developed a process in which glazed terra cotta is used to form relief sculpture.2

Aside from its stature, the vase has many notable features, including the vessel’s upper band (collar) of open fretwork in an abstract key pattern. The fretwork is a delicate aesthetic statement, and, like the vase itself, remains in remarkably good condition.3 Another aspect of the vase is the vertical sgraffito panels, where incised designs reveal various layers of color in the clay.4 The panels contain an arrangement of stylized poppies, a popular flower during this period, in various stages of bloom. On the foot of the base are the incised initials “EC,” presumably those of the unidentified decorator or painter.5 Michael E. Crane

Adapted from Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts 81, nos. 1­–2 (2007): 40–41.

1. See D. C. Peirce, Art and Enterprise: American Decorative Art, 1825–1917, The Virginia Carroll Crawford Collection (High Museum of Art, Atlanta, exh. cat., 1999), 318.
2. The “Della Robbia” line first appeared in a Roseville Pottery catalogue in 1906.
3. “Two ... incomplete vertical cracks bounding a 1 1/2-inch section of the rim. Both cracks are visible on the interior of the rim, and one of the cracks is also visible as a vertical white line on the exterior of the rim. The cracks were filled and toned with paint in a previous restoration, and the section of rim between the cracks was also toned with paint and varnished.” From a DIA conservation report, dated 5 January 2004, by J. Steele.
4. See American Arts and Crafts: Virtue in Design (Los Angeles County Museum of Art, exh. cat., 1997), 176.
5. Letter from Stuart P. Feld, Hirschl and Adler Galleries, Inc., New York, N.Y., to James W. Tottis, DIA associate curator of American art, 12 September 2002, DIA curatorial files.

Designer Frederick Hurten Rhead, American, 1880 - 1942
Maker Roseville Pottery Company, American, 1890 - 1954
  • Rozane "Della Robbia" Vase
Date between 1906 and 1908
Medium glazed earthenware
Dimensions Overall: 17 × 9 1/2 inches (43.2 × 24.1 cm)
Credit Line Museum Purchase, Beatrice W. Rogers Fund
Accession Number 2004.4
Department American Art before 1950
On View Modern C268, Level 2 (see map)
2004-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
"American Decorative Arts Acquisitions 1985-2005." Bulletin of the DIA 81, 1-2 (2007): pp. 40-41, 52.