Adelaïde Alsop Robineau

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Adelaïde Alsop Robineau
Art Academy of People's University.jpg
Adelaïde Alsop Robineau (4th from left) and others at the Art Academy of People's University (now the Lewis Center) in University City, Missouri in 1910, celebrating the opening of a new kiln. Samuel E. Robineau is second from left.
Born Adelaïde Alsop
Died 1929
Nationality American
Known for studio pottery
Notable work Scarab Vase, 1910
Movement American art pottery
Spouse(s) Samuel E. Robineau
Case of porcelain vases by Adelaïde Alsop Robineau at Chicago Art Institute exhibition, with Scarab Vase at top center, 1913.
Vase by Adelaïde Alsop Robineau, ca. 1910.

Adelaïde Alsop Robineau (1865–1929) was an American china painter and potter who is considered one of the top ceramists of her era.[1][2]

Family and education[edit]

Adelaïde Alsop was born in 1865 in Middletown, Connecticut.[3] She developed an early interest in both drawing and the then–popular pursuit of china painting. As a young woman she helped to support her family by teaching drawing at the boarding school where she had formerly been a student.[4] During one summer break, she enrolled in the painter William Merritt Chase's summer school, her only experience of advanced training in painting and drawing.[4] She later studied ceramics with Charles Binns at Alfred University and with Taxile Doat.[5]

In 1899, she married Samuel E. Robineau, a French ceramics expert who was at one time editor of Old China magazine.[4][5] The couple had three children.[5]

Art career[edit]

In 1899, Robineau and her husband launched Keramic Studio, a periodical for potters and ceramic artists that continued in print until 1919.[5] Within a few years, Robineau became the magazine's sole editor.[4] Around the same time, the couple moved to Syracuse, New York, where their house was designed by architect Katharine Budd. Robineau later built a ceramic studio next to the house. She taught china painting and pottery at her Four Winds Pottery School and sold her painted china, watercolors, and ceramics.[4]

Robineau began seriously making ceramics around 1901, by which time she already had a reputation as a china painter.[4] She became convinced that painting over the glaze — then a common technique — was the wrong approach and began to experiment with other procedures.[4] She worked primarily in porcelain, experimenting with American clays to create a true high-fire porcelain.[4] She also experimented with a wide range of forms, decorations, and glazes, with frequent use of multicolored, opalescent, and iridescent glazes.[4] Her mature work shows Art Nouveau and Japonisme influences in the use of stylized botanical and animal elements.[4] At a time when many noted china painters worked with blanks made by other people, she handled all phases of the process herself, from forming the pots to incising and painting them.[5] Some of the detail work on her pieces was so fine that she employed crochet needles and dental tools to get the desired effect.[2]

Many of Robineau's works are containers, including her most famous work, the Scarab Vase, a tall, incised porcelain vase that took over 1000 hours to make.[5] In 2000, Art & Antiquities magazine named it the most important piece of American ceramics of the last hundred years.[1]

Robineau taught at both Syracuse University (1920-29) and the Art Academy of People's University, an institution founded by Edward Gardner Lewis in Missouri.[5]

Before her death in 1929, she designed a cinerary urn that now holds the ashes of both Robineau and her husband.[2]

Her work is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum (New York), the Everson Museum of Art (Syracuse, New York), and other institutions.


  1. ^ a b Tapp, Barbara S., ed. "Top Treasures of the Century." Art & Antiques special issue, March 2000.
  2. ^ a b c Kirst, Sean. "Adelaide Robineau, Syracuse Ceramist: In Her Prime, 'Best in the Western World'"., May 12, 2006.
  3. ^ "Adelaide Alsop Robineau". Encyclopædia Britannica, 1911.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Shrimpton, Louise. "An Art Potter and Her Home". Good Housekeeping 50:1 (January 1910), pp. 57-63.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Bell, Barbara Nicholson. "Adelaide Alsop Robineau: Master Ceramist". Syracuse Then and Now. Retrieved March 9, 2017.

Further reading[edit]

  • Weiss, Peg, ed. Adelaide Alsop Robineau: Glory in Porcelain. Syracuse University Press, 1981.

External links[edit]