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Annenberg Rose, Boehm of Malvern Limited, Malvern, England, issued 1981-83, porcelain, 11 x 5 ½ x 5 ½ inches. Lora Robins Gallery of Design from Nature, University of Richmond Museums, Gift of Mrs. Helen F. Boehm, R1985.02.50. Photograph by Katherine Wetzel. © Edward Marshall Boehm, Inc.
Mar 20, 2002
throughAug 25, 2002

Buds, Blooms, and Blossoms: Boehm Porcelains from the Permanent Collection

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An exhibition celebrating the porcelain sculptures of Edward Marshall Boehm, Inc. opens at the Lora Robins Gallery of Design from Nature at the University of Richmond on March 20, 2002, and remains on view through August 25, 2002. Buds, Blooms, and Blossoms: Boehm Porcelains from the Permanent Collection features impressive examples of Boehm's talent in creating highly realistic and intricate flower sculptures. The exhibition was co-curated by Anna Shaw (AW'02) University of Richmond art history major, and N. Elizabeth Schlatter, Assistant Director, University of Richmond Museums.
About the exhibition
Opening on the first day of spring, the exhibition displays a selection of flowers that best demonstrates the artistry of the Boehm porcelain technique, including flowers found in Virginia and several rose varieties. On view is a work titled Cardinal with Dogwood, which represents both the state bird and flower of Virginia. Several other sculptures depict examples of plants and flowers native to Virginia, including daisies and daffodils. A separately highlighted piece will be an amazingly delicate sculpture of Papal Irises that measures over one foot tall. A selection of rose sculptures reveals the studio's notable commissions and commemorative pieces. Featured in the exhibition are the Blue Nile Rose, made in 1982 for the former first lady of Egypt, Mrs. Jehan Sadat, and the Princess Diana Rose, created in 1985 for the Princess of Wales.

Edward Marshall Boehm (American, 1913-1969) began his career as a veterinary assistant with surprising artistic talent. His love for nature inspired him to sculpt birds and animals, first from modeling clay, and later using porcelain. In order to start their own porcelain production facility, Edward Boehm and his wife Helen moved to Trenton, New Jersey in 1950, to be nearer to established ceramics studios such as Lenox. He was the first American to be widely recognized for technical superiority in the making of fine hard-paste porcelain.

The complex process employed to craft Boehm porcelain sculptures, all of which are either bone or hard-paste pieces, begins with a sketch of the composition and design on paper. The artist fashions a model made from modeling clay, separates it into careful sections, and transfers it into Plaster of Paris. The model pieces are then used to build master negative and positive molds, in which the artist pours a slip mixture for firing. The slip contains vitrifying agents, which in the case of bone porcelain is bone ash. Once hardened, the replica model segments, called greenware, are conjoined by the artist using supports, filled with liquid hard-paste, and fired at a high temperature. After the bisque has cooled, the object may be painted and fired repeatedly, as different glazes require different firing techniques to adhere the color to the porcelain. The piece undergoes a final inspection before being certified a finished sculpture by the Boehm company.

Today, Edward Marshall Boehm, Inc. continues to manufacture open and limited edition porcelains that are sold by jewelers and at galleries across the country. Boehm, Inc. is most well known for sculptures of birds, several examples of which are housed in the Lora Robins Gallery collection. Boehm of Malvern, Ltd. in Malvern, England created most of the flowers on display at the Lora Robins Gallery. Many commissioned sculptures still reside in the homes and institutions of national and international dignitaries. In fact, Boehm has served British royalty, five popes, and nine American presidents, and Boehm sculptures can be found in 134 museums and other establishments around the world.