Rookwood hand-painted (or polychromed) art pottery pieces have hand-applied glazes from a tube or paint brush. This meticulous process varies slightly from artist to artist. The variations in the glazes give each item its unique qualities and textures for which Rookwood is known. “Shiri”, the mini monkey ornament rests his contented sleepy head on his knees. He is named after Japanese Rookwood artist Kataro Shirayamadani (1865-1948), who created the Monkey Paperweight. Shirayamadani brought a direct Japanese influence to Rookwood where he worked for over five decades and is Rookwood’s most prolific artist. This ornament measures approximately 3 1/4 inches tall.
The Fricks were clearly fans of Rookwood Pottery; in their Pittsburgh home, Clayton, amidst an assortment of European fine and decorative arts, there are four pieces by Rookwood of Cincinnati, Ohio. The earliest Rookwood piece in the collection is an Asian-influenced jar dated 1883, although the actual date of purchase is unknown. The other three pieces in the collection date between 1896 and 1900, when Rookwood’s reputation as fine American pottery was securely established. Two of the Frick’s pieces were purchased in December, indicating they might have been holiday, birthday, or anniversary gifts—since the Fricks celebrated many family events during the month of December.