I have looked online for some fabulous images of historical pots in order to create a slide show for a History of Ceramics class at the Heritage Arts Institute. Below is a short list of annotated links where you can find many images and some text describing the wonderful world of ceramic history. May these inspire you!
The best source I have come across is the Ceramic History for Potters web tutorial by Victor Bryant, a British potter and college professor. This link can be the poor person’s ceramic history class – no grades, no fees… just an Internet connection and tons of time. Victor does a fantastic job delving into the ancient history of clay. Greek, Roman and Chinese history are well represented as well as the history of the potter’s wheel and kilns.
One cannot offer a history of art course without mentioning the enormous art collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History offers users a chance to go to any part of the world during a time period and look at images from the Met’s collection. Images are well described and you can zoom in and sometimes see various views of an item.
If the arts of Asia are what you seek, take a look at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts online collection of ceramics. They offer a wonderful guide to Chinese ceramics and have a nice collection of Japanese and Korean ceramics as well.
Central America has a long history with clay. An online exhibition of Pre-Columbian pottery is not exactly the easiest to navigate, and I believe there are some adverts that get in the way, but it does offer some wonderful images and information about ceramics from Costa Rica, Belize, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Panama and Guatemala.
America hasn’t been around too long, however native peoples lived on this land for many years and made some strictly functional, and sometimes beautiful pottery. Beloit College’s Logan Museum of Anthropology has a wonderful online collection of pottery shards from SouthWest America.
The Victoria and Albert Museum in England is similar to the Met in its collection of art objects from around the world. On their website, you can browse a Masterpiece Timeline of Ceramics or search their collection. What I like best is the audio and video they provide – you can see or hear famous artists discuss pottery in the V&A collection. These are great lesson on looking at pots!
Glendale Community College has a website devoted to the History of World Ceramics that includes short lectures alongside images. Organized under: ‘Ancient History’, MesoAmerica, South America, Far East, Middle East, and Europe.
DePauw University has a History of Ceramics page(s) complete with a lecture you can read.
The Smithsonian also has a wonderful collection of ceramics. An interesting link is the interactive exhibit of Iraq and China: Ceramics, Trade, and Innovation which delves into the trade between the two countries and essentially shows how Maiolica came to be.
Islamic Ceramic Museum offers some information and images that are exciting to those interested in this history. Also the Ashmolean Museum has an Islamic Ceramics Trail that is certainly worth browsing.
Interested in some of the most BEAUTIFUL pottery in history? Check out the slides of Minoan and Mycenean pottery at the Aegean Art History site of Ohio University. Just click on the image and begin browsing.
Japanese Ceramic history can be found @ e-Yakimono where there is a timeline of pottery, a listing of styles and information on kilns.
British pottery history is truly intriguing – especially just before and during the industrial revolution. The city of Stoke-on-Trent hosts a wonderful website devoted to the huge ceramic industry that was there during this time. Lots of great images and information here!
William Itter Collection of African Pottery online is a tremendous resource for images from African potters. Both historical and contemporary pots are shown.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison offers links to images of decorative arts on their Digital Library for the Decorative Arts and Material Culture. Here you can navigate to several sites offering images of decorative arts – including ceramic arts.
Clayhound offers lots of images and some information on Native American Pottery. My favorite part of this site is the Pottery Map where each tribe listed on the map is linked to contemporary images of the work.
Looking for Women in Clay? Look no further than Jayne Shatz’s page on Women’s Contribution to the Ceramic Field. Jayne has a PhD in Prehistoric Ceramics for g-d’s sake, so this has gotta be a good one! She also has other ceramic lectures on her site.
Arizona State University has a nice museum collection of modern ceramics. Thanks to them for putting tons of images online!!!!
Contemporary work may be seen at the Museum of Arts and Design.
Do you mind if I use this page in a handout to my students? I appreciate all the work you have done setting this up:)
Hello Shana, I am happy to let you use my history links page. It was a bit of work to put together and I have not updated it in a while. Your request will light the fire under me to improve/update the listing. Thank you for your comment!
This is a fabulous list. Thanks!
What a treat to find!
I’m just freshening up my slide show and stoked to pull some new (old) images from these resources.
Thanks a ton…
You are welcome, Steven. If you are the earthenware potter so named, I have a link to your blog on my Earthenware page. I added these links to help students locate historical and contemporary pots. Glad that others find it helpful as well. Thanks for your contribution to the pottery field!
Wow! This is such a phenomenal resource. You provide an excellent service. Thank you so much for the links.
Thanks Steve! I have included a link to your site as well – being that you know an awful large amount about American Redware. Instead of listing your link twice, however, I listed it just once under the Earthenware page. It probably needs to be listed on both pages. Thank you to all the work you do in informing us about an important part of American ceramic history!
well, thank you for including me in your incredibly informative listing of ceramic history offerings. most importantly, thank you for being aware and willing to share information on ceramic history. your efforts are a gift!