Of Cottages and Castles: The Art of California Faience

One of the longest enduring art potteries in California, the distinctive works of California Faience, established in Berkeley in 1913 (briefly called The Tile Shop), were born out of a partnership between two former college classmates, William Bragdon and Chauncey Thomas. Firmly grounded in the ideals of the Arts and Crafts movement, all works were done by hand; the only concession to industrial process was the use of slip casting for their wide array of forms, which still required significant handwork. And the two men personally carried out all aspects of design and manufacture themselves. Also producing pottery in the Art Deco and Moderne styles, their operation was always small with a handful of additional artists creating wares throughout the years, including Beniamino Bufano and many women artists, such as Margaret Clayes, Julia Morgan, and Alice Coffee. The first exhibition dedicated to the legacy of this remarkable pottery, Of Cottages and Castles: The Art of California Faience presents the full range of the company’s decorative tiles, vessels, and sculptures, with the noteworthy inclusion of tiles from the company’s most prestigious project, the commission by architect Julia Morgan for a complete environment of tiles for William Randolph Hearst’s palatial home and grounds in San Simeon.

Of Cottages and Castles: The Art of California Faience is organized by the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, and is supported by the PMCA Board of Directors and PMCA Ambassador Circle.


Listen below for an audio recording of The History of Arts and Crafts Design in Pasadena (December 5, 2015):