The Met’s Ceramics Collection

I subscribe to the NY Times. The paper recently ran an article about a donation of arms and armor to the Metropolitan Museum in New York. I looked up the Met’s website to see whether they post online information about their ceramics collection.

They do indeed. In 2017, The Met made all images of public-domain works in its collection available under Creative Commons Zero (CC0) That means each of us has unlimited access to view and use over 406,000 images of artworks in the Met’s collection. Just searching for “ceramics” yielded 24,521 image results.

As a quick sample, I point to this porcelain vase designed by Kate B. Sears for the Ceramic Art Company in Trenton, New Jersey in 1892.

Note the image quality and detail visible when I zoom into the image of this piece posted on the Met website:

Here’s another example, this of a pair of vases made at the Royal Porcelain Manufactury at Sèvres, France, in 1789. Although not a favored style today, this type of decorative vase was all the rage in France just prior to the French Revolution.

More detail is visible by zooming into this image:

And still more detail is visible by zooming into additional images of these vases:

Some pieces, like this 13th Century Korean maebyeong (plum bottle) vase, are accompanied by audio descriptions and background information. The audio information on this particular piece firsts describes the decorative motif of cranes and clouds, particularly how the stylized cloud forms mirror the shapes of the cranes. The audio then details how this piece is an example of inlaid celadon, one of the most innovative forms of Korean art. Before glazing, the ceramic artists cut shapes of clouds and cranes out of the clay and filled these incisions with a pale clay mixture. Similarly, black lines around the clouds and details on the cranes were also cut out of the base clay material and filled with a red clay inlay. After smoothing the surface, the potters then applied a celadon glaze over the entire piece and fired the pot, turning the red clay inlay to black.

Another example on the website is this early 16th century hanging bottle (refredador), used to cool wine by immersing it in a larger container of cold water.

One final example: an Olmec seated figure (life sized) from the 12th – 9th Century BCE. The Met website offers views from multiple angles.

Here’s a link to the search page of the Met’s collection. Have fun!

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