Edward Lycett was a prominent English artisan of the late 19th-century whose expertise at creating beautiful ceramic pieces led him to become the creative director of the exclusive Faience Manufacturing Co. in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Lycett’s works were sold by merchants of luxury home décor; bought by wealthy collectors of fine pottery; and even made their way to the ultimate locale, the White House.
Beginning on May 3, 2012, many of Edward Lycett’s works of art will be on display at the Brooklyn Museum. The show, curated by Barbara Veith, is entitled ““Aesthetic Ambitions: Edward Lycett and Brooklyn’s Faience Manufacturing Company” and will run through June 16, 2013.
Edward Lycett was born in Staffordshire, England, in 1833. He arrived in New York City in 1861 and settled in Greenpoint. He was one of hundreds of Englishmen who had apprenticed and worked in Staffordshire ceramic studios who immigrated to the US in search of greater opportunity.
As a talented artist and skilled businessman Lycett was able to distinguish himself from many of those other potters from England. By the end of his more than 60 years creating fine ceramics Lycett was able to boast having been commissioned to create pieces for President Andrew Johnson; teaching in St. Louis and Cincinnati; and receiving recognition from Edwin Atlee Barber, the famed 19th-century American ceramic historian. The climax of Lycett’s career came in the 1880s during the time when he was the director of the aesthetic collection of the Faience Manufacturing Company in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
When asked what attracted her to study Lycett and his work, curator Barbara Veith replied in part:
“The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s 1986 exhibition catalog, “In Pursuit of Beauty: Americans and the Aesthetic Movement,” identified the Faience Manufacturing Co. and Edward Lycett as significant, but there was more to discover about the enterprising pottery and its eminent art director, and I embarked on a re-examination of Lycett’s multifaceted career.
“Many times, I imagined entering the Faience Manufacturing Co.’s Manhattan showroom, or the decorating department of the Greenpoint pottery, and the exhilarating visual impact of seeing the myriad colorful and eccentrically shaped vessels displayed together. This exhibition is a realization of that dream.”