May 13, 2014–January 8, 2017

Covered Jar with Star Decoration

Solomon Grimm (1787-?) Messengers

Rockland Township, Pennsylvania


Glazed red earthenware

10 x 5 3/4" diam.

Collection American Folk Art Museum, New York

Gift of Ralph Esmerian, 2005.8.22

Photo © John Bigelow Taylor, New York

Covered Jar with Star Decoration

Pennsylvania German redware pottery is characterized by a strong legacy of tradition in technique and decoration. Yet it also provided great possibilities for personal expression on the part of the potter, as evidenced by this jar, the work of Solomon Grimm, who is known particularly for his dense sgraffito patterning and heavy slip decoration. The incandescent star fairly vibrates with energy; each point has feathery rays that intensify the sense of scintillation, and the diamonds that form the primary eight-pointed star are each filled with cross-hatching and spotted patterning. The celestial glow that results from the surface embellishment is unique to Grimm, though the vessel itself draws on late eighteenth-century forms and patterns. Grimm may have trained with John Leisenring, an immigrant potter from Silesia who continued to employ Old World techniques, before apprenticing from 1815 to 1825 with a potter named Weiss in Rockland Township. Grimm’s signed and dated pieces fall primarily within these years.

Stacy C. Hollander, “Covered Jar with Star Decoration,” exhibition label for Self-Taught Genius: Treasures from the American Folk Art Museum. Stacy C. Hollander and Valérie Rousseau, curators. New York: American Folk Art Museum, 2014.