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Cincinnati's Rookwood Pottery Company manufactured art ceramics in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. With pieces reflecting the popular aesthetic values of the arts and crafts movement, the company received wide notice at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, and it was between this exposition and the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition that Rookwood concentrated its decorative energies on American Indian portraits adapted directly from photographs. This catalog accompanying a recent exhibition is both a history of a specific subset of a particular company's output and a catalog of the Cincinnati Art Museum's important collection of some 50 vases, pitchers, and ale mugs, all featuring American Indian portraiture. Essays by curator Ellis (Rookwood Pottery) and art historian Meyn (Northern Kentucky Univ.; More Than Curiosities) contextualize the rather arcane pieces, which represent the early stages of the West's fictionalized mythology, a narrative that would later become familiar to future generations of Americans. A good purchase for comprehensive collections in the decorative arts; optional otherwise.
—Douglas F. Smith