Exhibition Archives

Prints have served as the inspiration for painted designs on ceramics for centuries. Beginning in the 1750s, entrepreneurial printers in England began to collaborate with potters to apply printed images directly to ceramics. These "transfer-printed wares" were initially luxury items. By the early nineteenth century, the cost of transfer printing dropped considerably, making a wide range of products-from chamber pots to complete dinner services-affordable to new consumers.

Primarily coming out of England, these fashionable printed ceramics flooded the market on both sides of the Atlantic. The range of subjects was virtually limitless. Political slogans and portraits of celebrities and military heroes appeared on milk jugs and water pitchers. Local landmarks and exotic views of foreign scenery graced dinner plates. Religious and moral verses and images embellished tea and coffee services.

Our recreated print room transports you to a time in which printed texts and images were still relatively new and exciting, a time in which an image transferred onto a dish would have been regarded as a true innovation. As you explore the objects on display as well as the room itself, consider how different this mode of media consumption and presentation is from today's digital world. At the same time, the visual and thematic link between past and present allow this imagery to be as engaging in the twenty-first century as it was two hundred years ago.

Welcome to The Print Room