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Our America plate

Object Name: Plate
Date: 1939
Related People:
Medium: Transfer-printed earthenware
Dimensions: Overall (diameter): 10 1/2 in. (26.7 cm)
Place made: Vernon
Description: Cream-colored circular plate transfer-printed in brown with bird’s-eye view of lower Manhattan; rim decorated with stars on brown ground.
Credit Line: Purchase, 20th- and 21st-Century Acquisition Fund
Object Number: 2013.7
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Marks: Printed on reverse: “ ‘Our America’ / Designed by / Rockwell Kent / VERNON KILNS / Made in U.S.A.”

Gallery Label:

In 1939, the New York painter and illustrator Rockwell Kent designed a line of tableware for the California manufacturer Vernon Kilns called “Our America.” Its simple forms were decorated with transfers of wood engravings depicting American scenes from Manhattan to the Great Lakes to a Florida lagoon, many of them depicting laborers at work. The forms were printed in red, blue, or brown on a cream colored ground, and each of the pieces was rimmed with stars on a dark ground. Kent’s designs for the set captured American innocence, bravado, and patriotism just prior to nation’s entry into World War II.

This example depicts a bird’s-eye view of lower Manhattan looking east from the Hudson River. With its soaring skyscrapers and jutting piers, Manhattan appears as a hub of commercial activity. Also visible is the Battery, including Castle Garden, and the site that, several decades later, would be dominated by the World Trade Center.