In 1880, Maria Longworth Nichols founded Rookwood, one of America’s most important and productive art potteries. Nichols began as a china painter, but soon expanded to pottery production and hired numerous artisans to work with her. The earliest pieces produced at Rookwood reveal the use of a variety of decorating techniques, but in 1884, artists began blowing colored slips through an atomizer, an early variant of the airbrush. This underglaze, slip-decorated ware was designated Rookwood Standard and characterized works produced at Rookwood during the period between 1884 and the turn of the century.
Among Rookwood’s most highly prized pieces in this line are works by Kataro Shirayamadani, who decorated this ewer with Rookwood Standard glaze, which was then embellished with a silver mount. Shirayamadani came to Rookwood from Japan in 1887 and became the company’s most innovative designer. His designs often blend the influences of his Japanese heritage and the international Art Nouveau movement.