Portrait of George Ohr (Early 1890s - Early 1890s) by William WoodwardOhr-O'Keefe Museum of Art

William Woodward painted a water color portrait of George Ohr, c. 1890. Woodward and his brother Ellsworth Woodward formed the New Orleans Art Pottery on Baronne Street. They hired Joseph Meyer as the potter and George Ohr came to assist him. William Woodward, George Ohr and Joseph Meyer remained in contact for years and all are buried in the Biloxi Cemetery.

Packet of Glaze (1895/1910) by J. Marsching & Co., 27 Park Place, New YorkOhr-O'Keefe Museum of Art

A packet of mineral color was found among Ohr's belongings. Ohr created original low-fire enamels in the mid-to-late 1890s. He used single hues, as well as combinations, sometimes enhanced with ground metallics, such as lead.

George Ohr Business Card (Late 1890s - Early 1900s) by UnknownOhr-O'Keefe Museum of Art

George Ohr created an assortment of business cards. He was never hesitant to self-promote "The Mad Potter of Biloxi" as the greatest art potter.

George Ohr Advertisement in "The Philistine," Volume XIV (1901/1901) by Edited and published Elbert HubbardOhr-O'Keefe Museum of Art

The Mad Potter paid for an ad in "The Philistine: A Periodical of Protest" produced by socialist and anarchist Elbert Hubbard, who used the publication to promote his ideas of personal freedom.

Postcard of George Ohr's Pottery Studio, ©1901 (Early 1900s - Early 1900s) by Detroit Photographic Co.Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art

Ohr rebuilt his studio in its bright pink pagoda-like form. The top of the structure could undoubtedly be seen for miles by tourists on the Mississippi Gulf Coast - another marketing scheme created by Ohr.

Photograph from the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, St. Louis, Missouri (Early 1900s - Early 1900s) by Samuel Cupples Envelope Co., St. Louis, Mo., Sole World's Fair StationersOhr-O'Keefe Museum of Art

George Ohr showed his work in the Mississippi Section of the Mines and Metallurgy Building at the Louisiana Purchase International Exposition in St. Louis, Missouri in 1904, which celebrated the centennial of the 1803 Louisiana Purchase. Foreign countries and states, including Mississippi, were represented at the fair, which opened April 30, 1904 and closed December 1, 1904.

Silver Medal from the Louisiana Purchase Exhibition, St. Louis, MO (1904/1904) by Adolph A. WeinmanOhr-O'Keefe Museum of Art

George Ohr displayed his work at the Louisiana Purchase International Exposition in St. Louis, Missouri in 1904. Pieces made by Ohr at the fair can be found in various collections, inscribed "Expo Clay, 1904." Unlike the other world's fairs Ohr attended, the St. Louis fair concentrated more on individual artists instead of the larger pottery companies. The merit of Ohr's work was recognized by his winning a silver medal.

Ohr's Court File (1909/1910) by UnknownOhr-O'Keefe Museum of Art

One of several court hearings, including a lunacy hearing, filed against George Ohr for incidents that began with Ohr's challenge of a land dispute after the death of his parents.

Calvin Brown Catalog Item, Letter from Josephine Ohr (1926/2015) by Written by Joesphine Gehring OhrOhr-O'Keefe Museum of Art

Josephine Ohr wrote to Dr. Calvin S. Brown of the University of Mississippi in 1925. Brown had become interested in Ohr's work and had corresponded with Ohr before his death. Josephine sent a gift of "burned babies" to Brown.

Calvin Brown Catalog Item, Letter from Josephine Ohr (1926/2015) by Written by Joesphine Gehring OhrOhr-O'Keefe Museum of Art

A letter to Dr. Calvin Brown dated 1926, in which Josephine Ohr tells of George's death and states that he had worked for a while in Fairhope, Alabama on the Mobile Bay.

Calvin Brown Catalog Item, Ohr Pottery (1925/2015) by Written by Calvin BrownOhr-O'Keefe Museum of Art

Notes from Dr. Calvin Brown of the University of Mississippi, in which he states that he was given pieces of Ohr pottery during a visit to Josephine Ohr in 1925.

Cover of "Popular Ceramics" (1965/1965) by Article by Dolores SmithOhr-O'Keefe Museum of Art

An article about George Ohr was written for "Popular Ceramics" by Dolores "Bobby" Davidson Smith who organized the Gulf South Ceramic Show of Ohr's pottery in Biloxi in 1965. Smith stated, "Ohr's genius seems to have flowed from the well-spring of natural instinct. He was mainly self-taught, and absorbed everything he observed."

Front Cover of Program for the Gulf South Ceramic Show (1965/1965) by UnknownOhr-O'Keefe Museum of Art

The show of Ohr pottery organized by Dolores "Bobby" Davidson Smith showed pottery that had been unexposed for more than 50 years and stated that the exhibition would unravel the mystery as to the whereabouts of Ohr pottery that has puzzled collectors searching for definitive work.

Essay from the Program from the Gulf South Ceramic Show (1967/1967) by Authored by Dolores "Bobby" Davidson SmithOhr-O'Keefe Museum of Art

Dolores "Bobby" Davidson Smith organized the "Second Showing" of Ohr's pottery, c. 1967, and composed an essay to include in the program. Bobby was an advocate for the importance of Ohr's work and encouraged Ohr's heirs to construct a "bunker" in which to store the pottery to keep it safe from hurricanes.

Cover of the Book "George E. Ohr and his Biloxi Art Pottery" (1973) by Authored by Robert W. BlasbergOhr-O'Keefe Museum of Art

Robert Blasberg was a friend of James Carpenter, who purchased the Ohr estate. Blasberg contacted Bobby Davidson Smith and they had an ongoing correspondence about Ohr in the 1960s. Their correspondence was not as innocent as it seemed on the part of Blasberg. Ultimately Blasberg's friend James Carpenter purchased the Ohr estate and Blasberg wrote "George E. Ohr and His Biloxi Art Pottery" in 1973, followed by "The Unknown Ohr" in 1986.

Credits: Story

Compiled by Curator Barbara Johnson Ross and her assistant Lilyana Gandour from the collection and archives of the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art.

Works Cited:

Clark, Garth, Ellison, Robert A. Jr., Hecht, Eugene. "The Mad Potter of Biloxi: The Art and Life of George E. Ohr." New York: Abbeville Press Publishers, 1989.

Ellison, Robert with Martin Edelburg. "George Ohr, Art Potter: The Apostle of Individuality." London: Scala Publishers, 2006.

Hecht, Eugene. "After the Fire, George Ohr: An American Genius." Lambertville, NJ: Arts and Crafts Quarterly Press, 1994.

Hecht, Eugene. "George Ohr: The Greatest Art Potter on Earth." New York: Skira Rizzoli Publications, 2013.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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