Pickard China Company - Cake Plate, “Encrusted Linear,” 1919–1922<img alt="" src="/sites/GovernorsMansion/Exhibitions/PublishingImages/Art-of-Illinois/Pickard-China-Cake-Tea-set.jpg" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />Pickard China Company - Cake Plate, “Encrusted Linear,” 1919–1922<div class="ExternalClass987F06863F2447929FE1ED8C3FACF12B"><p>​When former cut glass and artware salesman Wilder A. Pickard (1857–1939) and his wife Minnie launched the company bearing their name in 1894, it was the first commercial studio devoted to volume production of fine hand-painted china for the specialty and gift markets. The company began on a small scale, supplying porcelain blanks to female art students who worked in their Chicago homes, decorating the "fancy china" using mineral paints.</p><p>In 1905, Pickard opened a large new studio complex in Chicago's Ravenswood neighborhood with a staff of 50. By then, the company was successful enough to hire professional artists, many of whom were drawn from Chicago's large population of highly trained European immigrants. Employees represented many nationalities: French, English, German, Austrian, Bohemian, Hungarian, Polish, and Russian.</p><p>Pickard artists developed their own unique patterns with little more supervision than the periodic evaluation of new designs. Among the most celebrated were Robert Hessler, who specialized in stylized designs; Curtis Marker, who excelled at painting flora, landscapes, and ornate birds; Englishman Edward S. Challinor, known for unique landscapes and roses; and Florence James, who demonstrated considerable flexibility in style and subject, whether naturalistic florals or simple borders. It was customary for Pickard artists to sign their work.</p><p>In 1911, the company introduced etched gold, a unique process in which the vitreous glaze on the surface of the china was eaten away using hydrofluoric acid. Etched-gold bands added a touch of luxury to Pickard's colorful hand-painted patterns; its all-over-gold china etched with floral designs was so popular that it was widely imitated by competitors.</p><p>A year later, Pickard launched a very successful line of "vellum scenics," whose delicate pastel colors, applied in matte-finish paints, gave a soft velvet feel and amplified the dreamy mood the scenes portrayed.</p><p>By the 1920s, the company's output had expanded to include hand-painted sets of dinnerware, along with dessert services, tea sets, and after-dinner-coffee services, plus vases and dresser sets. The company was known for its wide variety of exquisite patterns, elegant gold and platinum borders, and artistic renderings of flowers, fruits, figurals, and picturesque scenes. </p><p>When Wilder's son, Austin Pickard, joined the business in the late 1920s, he began experiments in developing a fine china dinnerware body. Finding suitable clay in the northern Antioch area, he moved the company to its present location in 1937. A year later, the company introduced the warm white china with the lion trademark still used today.</p><p>In the 1950s, the company responded to changing consumer tastes and a shortage of skilled artists by replacing wholly hand-painted designs with simpler patterns, all-over-gold, decals, monograms, and hand-decorated details. Pickard China remains a family-owned business producing fine Illinois-made ivory and white hand-decorated porcelain dinnerware for retail, government, gift, and food service/commercial customers in its Antioch factory to this day.</p><p>The Pickard Collectors Club, whose membership includes many children and grandchildren of Pickard artists, actively shares information and sponsors exhibitions of Pickard porcelain and glass.</p></div>GP0|#391eb488-c8d6-4bb9-b942-2180f54fe3c5;L0|#0391eb488-c8d6-4bb9-b942-2180f54fe3c5|Pickard China Company;GTSet|#6a9f5109-021d-478a-ae73-864102492159;GPP|#b8008031-8d86-41bf-8c8c-657f66f046d4;GPP|#be65f490-4890-487c-bb16-c396d99511f7China;#TemporaryChina;#Porcelain;#Chicago and Antioch, IllinoisPorcelain 107⁄8 × 10 inches, Robert Hessler (1872, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania–1961, Chicago, Illinois), designer and decorator. Private Collection