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Joseph Fortune Meyer
(Burthiers, Haute-Saone, France, 1848 - 1931, New Orleans, LA)
A master potter, Joseph Meyer was a key figure of the Newcomb Pottery movement and helped build the pottery’s kilns. His stamped mark is visible on more pieces than any other single artisan in the group. He was also a mentor to ceramic artist George Ohr, “The Mad Potter of Biloxi”. A 1994 Newcomb catalog describes his career as follows:
Born in Alsace-Lorraine, France, Joseph Meyer grew up in Biloxi, Mississippi, learning the potter’s trade from his father. Later in New Orleans he maintained his own pottery business and then worked at the Pottery Club of New Orleans from 1886 until 1890. Meyer was called by [Ellsworth] Woodward to help set up the Newcomb pottery in 1896. From then until 1927 Meyer threw, glazed, and fired all the ware decorated by the women at the Pottery. He was an extremely skillful potter who could throw and trim virtually any shape or form requested by the decorators. Always active, he experimented with a number of clay bodies and glazes including copper-reds.
---Excerpted from 100 Years of Ceramics at Newcomb College, 1894-1994. A Faculty Retrospective by Jeremy Jernegan, Jessie Poesch, and Tiffany Sherman, exhibition catalog, Newcomb Art Department, 1994, p. 11.