Mold-Blown Vase
Mt. Washington Glass Co. & Smith Bros.
New Bedford, MA; c. 1885
H: 7 3/4"
NBMOG Collection
Museum Purchase
Acc. 2006.001
The stylized world of children depicted by English artist Kate Greenaway (1846-1901) achieved great popularity in the late 19th century. Like the famous "Brownie" characters created by her contemporary, Palmer Cox, Greenaway's drawings were widely copied for decoration on silver, china and glass, including Mt. Washington glass from New Bedford, Massachusetts. For some unknown reason the Mt. Washington examples almost always take the form of conical ring vases (see examples to left). Their colored enamel decorations were painted by the Smith Brothers decorating firm, also of New Bedford, and occasionally the vases bear a  Smith Brothers signature.

In 2006 NBMOG made an exciting discovery and acquisition when the Greenaway-style vase illustrated to the upper left came to light. Acting on a tip from member Ross Nelson, the Museum was able to purchase this vase at a small auction in Connecticut. It features the strange scene of a boy who holds out his arms in a protective gesture before a road sign while a small girl and dog cower at his feet. The scene undoubtedly was copied from a published Greenaway illustration, but was modified by the glass decorator to include the sign, which reads "To New Bedford" (see detail below). Currently it is the only example of Mt. Washington glass known to feature the words "New Bedford" as part of the decoration.
Mold-Blown Vase
Mt. Washington Glass Co. &
    Smith Bros.
New Bedford, MA; c. 1885
H: 7 3/4"
NBMOG Collection
Museum Purchase
Acc. 1999.066
Mold-Blown Vase
Mt. Washington Glass Co. &
    Smith Bros.
New Bedford, MA; c. 1885
H: 7 3/4"
NBMOG Collection
Museum Purchase
Acc. 2006.002
Mold-Blown Vase
Baccarat Glass Factory
Baccarat, France; c. 1885
H: 9 7/8"
NBMOG Collection
Museum Purchase
Acc. 2006.021
Under the Window, p. 46
NBMOG Rockwell Library
L2008.1181
Two closely related examples from the Museum's collection, also illustrated to the left, show different versions of the scene. In one the threatening "role" of the sign is played by a scarecrow. In the other it takes the form of a stork. Notice that the scene with the stork has been flipped horizontally. In all three cases the decorator undoubtedly used some form of mechanical aid to transfer the main elements of the design, but still had the capability to alter elements as whimsy dictated. Judging from minor variations in line and color, each of these vases was hand painted, possibly over transfer guide lines that burned away during the firing.  We hope that some of the mystery surrounding this intriguing group of vases will be solved when the original published design source is discovered.

In a study of Greenaway motifs recently published by NBMOG in the newsletter of the Mt. Washington & Pairpoint Glass Society  (Vol. 13, No.1/2, Spring/Summer 2008, pp. 1-16), the original sources for a number of privately-owned Greenaway-style vases are identified [click Motif Catalog]. The identified motifs all come from Greenaway's first book of pictures and rhymes, Under the Window, published in 1878. This book also features an illustration of two children with umbrellas that relates to a French vase by Baccarat in the NBMOG collection (see below). The accompanying Greenaway verse reads "I saw a ship that sailed the sea, / It left me as the sun went down; / The white birds flew, and followed it / To town, - to London town. / Right sad were we to stand alone, / And see it pass so far away; / And yet we knew some ship would come - / Some other ship - some other day."
Kate Greenaway Motifs
The New Bedford Museum of Glass