From Paris to the Plains - CSPM

From Paris to the Plains

Art , Pikes Peak Regional History

Van Briggle Pottery in Colorado Springs

When Artus Van Briggle stepped off the train at the Colorado Springs station in March 1899, he carried a secret formula. After years of study and experimentation, Van Briggle successfully devised a matte glaze that was in contrast to the
traditional High-Gloss pottery of the Victorian Era. Coming west to seek a cure for his tuberculosis, Van Briggle founded a pottery that combined his innovative glaze, unique artistic vision and inspiration drawn from our natural setting to revolutionize American ceramics.

Prior to arriving in Colorado Springs, Artus Van Briggle studied art in Paris from 1893 to 1896. His experiences there transformed both his personal and professional lives. Artus attended the Julian Academy and often visited the Louvre and Sévres Ceramics Museums in Paris. There he admired the delicate, dead or matte glazes of China’s Ming Dynasty. Inspired to rediscover the long-lost formula for these beautifully soft finishes, Artus began his life’s work. It was also in Paris that Van Briggle met his fiancée, fellow art student Anne Lawrence Gregory. Anne joined Artus in Colorado Springs in 1900 and the couple married two years later.

Van Briggle Art Pottery produced award winning ceramics in the Art Nouveau style. Understood largely as a response to the mechanization and urbanization of the industrial age, Art Nouveau (new art in French) was an international style in vogue from 1890-1910. Incorporating natural decorative motifs such as plants and animals, artists stressed harmony between the object and its decoration. The innovative pottery of Artus and Anne Van Briggle featured colors and plants found in their adopted home of Colorado while perfectly epitomizing the values of Art Nouveau movement.

Tragically, Artus Van Briggle died of tuberculosis in 1904 at the age of 35. After his death, Anne became president of the company until she left the business in 1912. Together, Artus and Anne Van Briggle created a uniquely original — and enduring artistic legacy. The over 150 pieces of Van Briggle Art Pottery featured in this exhibit were created during 1900- 1912 and thus directly reflect the work and genius of Artus and Anne Van Briggle.

Share this Exhibit