Jul 27, 2005

Leda and the Swan

Leda and the Swan


designed by

Viktor Schreckengost

(American, 1906–2008)

made at

Cowan Pottery Studio

(American, Ohio, Rocky River, 1912–1931)

Glazed earthenware with engobe, sgraffito

Diameter: 41.5 cm (16 5/16 in.); Overall: 6.9 cm (2 11/16 in.)

Gift of Gene and Viktor Schreckengost in honor of the museum staff 2001.85



Viktor Schreckengost's career bridges the fields of industrial design, product design, the fine arts, and teaching. His designs include such everyday items as dinnerware, bicycles, pedal cars, lawn furniture, printing presses, stage sets, and outdoor lighting systems. As the son of a potter, Schreckengost has always had a natural affinity for clay. In 1930, he began exhibiting ceramic objects at the annual May Show at the Cleveland Museum of Art. At first he focused on plates and vessels, which, as seen here, he decorated with bold, modern designs. This is one of a series of large ceramic plates that Schreckengost produced shortly after his return to Cleveland from a year of study in Vienna. In Greek mythology Leda was one of the mortal women loved by Zeus, king of the gods. Zeus came to Leda in the form of a swan. For this plate Schreckengost used a challenging technique called sgraffito, which did not allow him to make changes or corrections. To create the design, he scratched through a surface covering of black engobe (clay mixed with glaze) to the white ceramic underneath.

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