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The Newark Museum Presents a Glimpse of Lenox Collection
Porcelain basket from the 1910 Modern American Pottery exhibition at The Newark Museum.
NEWARK.- For almost six generations, brides and brides-to-be across the country have treasured wedding gifts manufactured by Lenox, America’s premier porcelain brand. The Newark Museum presents a glimpse of its Lenox collection, including rare and highly unusual pieces, in an intimate exhibition entitled The Lenox Legacy: America’s Greatest Porcelain, 1889-2005 opening on August 13.

The Newark Museum galleries provide an elegant setting for one-of-a-kind enameled porcelain vases and dinner plates by William Morley, Sigmund Wirkner and Hans Nosek; minutely detailed and rare porcelain figurines by Patricia Eakin, and modern designs from the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. A centerpiece for the Lenox Legacy exhibition will be one of only two known porcelain busts of company founder Walter Scott Lenox, modeled in 1917 by Isaac Broome. Fittingly set in the Museum’s Walter Scott Lenox Pavilion (funded in 1989 by Brown-Forman, Inc.), Lenox’s bust will be surrounded by large, undecorated, Victorian vessels of pure ivory porcelain, the firm’s trademark since 1889.

“The history of The Newark Museum’s decorative arts collection is profoundly linked with that of Lenox China, which is itself part of American design history,” remarked Ulysses Grant Dietz, Curator of the Museum’s Decorative Arts Collection. “The significance of this exhibition goes to Lenox’s beginnings in New Jersey, when it first captivated households across America.”

The history of Lenox began in 1889 when Walter Scott Lenox (1859-1920) founded the Ceramic Art Company in Trenton, NJ. He renamed it Lenox, Incorporated in 1906 when the firm’s focus shifted from producing porcelain artware to high-quality tableware. By the early 20th century, the brand was considered as exclusive as French, English and German imports. The most influential family in the United States – the country’s First Family – chose Lenox as the official White House china in 1918. Examples of three presidential services (Woodrow Wilson, Harry Truman and Ronald Reagan) will be on display as part of The Lenox Legacy exhibition.

According to Dietz, the Lenox legacy at The Newark Museum began in 1910 when the new museum, founded a year earlier in 1909, displayed borrowed Lenox pieces for its first exhibition of modern American pottery. In 1911, Lenox donated those porcelain objects to the Museum’s burgeoning permanent collection and continued to support the Museum throughout the twentieth century.

In 2005, Lenox’s parent company, Brown-Forman, Inc. sold its New Jersey Lenox division but, desiring to keep the Lenox legacy in the State of its origin, donated one-half of the Lenox Archives collection to The Newark Museum in 2007. The collection comprising more than 2000 porcelain objects, reflects every phase of the company’s 116-year history in New Jersey. The remaining porcelain archives were donated to the New Jersey State Museum in Trenton, while the Rutgers University Library Special Collections in New Brunswick has received the paper archives. Together, these three New Jersey institutions are the stewards of the unique and irreplaceable history of Walter Scott Lenox’s legacy to the people of New Jersey.

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