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Career in USA::Frederick Hurten Rhead

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Career in USA In 1902 Frederick Hurten Rhead emigrated to the USA. He was not the first member of his family to move there, as his uncle Louis Rhead (1858–1926) had already become established as a successful graphic designer in New York.

Emigrants from Stoke-on-Trent, where ceramics was the dominant industry, tended to settle in such places as Trenton, New Jersey, or, as in Frederick Rhead's case, Ohio. Both areas had significant pottery industries to exploit the clay deposits. Rhead's first USA position was managing a small art pottery at Tiltonville, Ohio, which changed its name from Vance Faience to Avon Faience in 1902.<ref>Dale, Sharon. Frederick Hurten Rhead: An English Potter in America. ISBN 0-9616623-0-1</ref> Pieces from Rhead's time at this pottery still come on the market, but they are relatively rare.<ref>https://kb.osu.edu/dspace/handle/1811/36255</ref> Production at Tiltonville was being transferred to nearby Wheeling, and in 1904, Rhead left to work as a designer for the Weller pottery in Zanesville, Ohio, but he did not stay there long. In 1904 Rhead became art director at the Roseville Pottery which was also in Zanesville. Roseville was a large pottery which produced some art pottery as well as more utilitarian lines.<ref name=Kelly></ref> In 1908 the company reduced the amount of handcrafting in its production, and the following year Rhead moved to University City, Missouri, although his brother Harry stayed on at Roseville.

University City

Frederick Hurten Rhead (at far left) and others at the Art Academy of People's University (now the Lewis Center) in University City, Missouri, celebrating its first high-firing kiln in April 1910.

Rhead, along with American potter Adelaïde Alsop Robineau and French potter Taxile Doat, was recruited by Edward Gardner Lewis, the founder of University City, to teach at the People's University there. This institution specialised in what is now called distance learning and was then usually called correspondence school. Rhead created a pottery correspondence course, although some pottery students also resided at the Art Academy. After Lewis became bankrupt in 1911, he ceased supporting the pottery studio. Taxile Doat continued pottery production at University City for a few years, but the Rheads moved to California.

Apart from teaching, Rhead produced some vases and tiles at University City, sometimes working with his wife Agnes.<ref>David Conradsen and Ellen Paul Denker, University City Ceramics: Art Pottery of the American Woman’s League, Saint Louis Art Museum, 2004.[1]</ref> In October 2012, a four-tile panel by Rhead sold for US$637,500 at auction in the USA.<ref name="Rago">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> It was bought on behalf of the Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement, currently under construction in St. Petersburg, Florida.<ref name="Rago" /> The 20 3/4-inch-square panel, depicting a peacock, was made in 1910.<ref name="Rago" />

California

Rhead's first California position was in Marin County at the Arequipa tuberculosis sanatorium. The director had decided to offer pottery classes to the patients.<ref>Fired by Ideals: Arequipa Pottery and the Arts and Crafts Movement, exhibition 2000/2001, Oakland Museum of California</ref> The Arequipa Pottery, which opened in 1911, was a sideline for the sanatorium, but Rhead was ambitious in his plans. He sourced suitable clays, experimented with glazes and taught decorative techniques such as tubelining (a technique also associated with his sister Charlotte). Rhead's methods were not regarded by the management as sufficiently businesslike. In 1913 he was replaced at the Arequipa Pottery by Albert Solon, another potter from Staffordshire, who reduced production costs.<ref>Albert was the son of Marc-Louis Solon, who had taught Rhead's father the art of pate-sur-pate.</ref>

Rhead remained in California, starting his own studio pottery in Santa Barbara in late 1913 or early 1914.<ref>Dale, Sharon, Frederick Hurten Rhead</ref> Operating until 1917, the Rhead Pottery produced ware which is now highly valued. In 2007 a Rhead vase from this period set the record, subsequently overtaken, as the most expensive American art pottery at auction.

Return to Ohio

In the later part of his career, Rhead worked in larger-scale, more commercial production. Rhead returned to Zanesville, where he worked for American Encaustic Tiling Company.<ref name="EP">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> The words encaustic tile refer to the 19th-century revival of a medieval technique for the production of floor tiles. During Rhead's time, the company combined production of some art tiles (for fireplaces, etc.) with large-scale production of more utilitarian ware. American Encaustic was reputed at one time to operate the largest tileworks in the world. It was forced to close in the 1930s, a victim of the Great Depression.


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