The Reeves Collection

Founded in 1967 with a gift of ceramics from alumnus Euchlin Reeves and his wife, the painter Louise Herreshoff, the Reeves Collection contains ceramics made in Asia, Europe, and the Americas between 1500 and today.

These fragile yet durable objects tell stories of design, technology, and trade, and illustrate how people drank, dined and decorated their homes over the past five centuries.

Search and view items from the Reeves Collection by visiting our online database. Records may at times be added or removed for editing.

Current Exhibits

Wedgwood Medallion"Breaking the Chains: Ceramics and the Abolition Movement"

The new exhibit “Breaking the Chains: Ceramics and the Abolition Movement,” sponsored by the Reeves Collection, is now open at the Watson Pavilion at Washington and Lee University. This exhibition features several pieces of anti-slavery ceramics used to support the cause of abolition throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. These pieces are taken from the Reeves Collection as well as loaned from institutions such as Colonial Williamsburg and Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library. “Breaking the Chains” will remain on display through December 31, 2019. For more information, access "Breaking the Chains" online.

New Accessions

Jar made by David Drake, Edgefield District, South Carolina, October 31, 1849

Made in Puebla, Mexico about 1700
Made of Tin-Glazed Earthenware
Gift of E&H Manners

Though only a fragment of its former self, this jar is a rare example of the exchange of technology and design between Europe, Asia, and the Americas.

It is an example of talavera poblana, which is tin-glazed earthenware made in Puebla, Mexico.  From the mid-1600s, Spanish potters working with indigenous Mexicans used European techniques and local materials to make pottery that one civic booster described in 1698 as being “finer than that of Talavera [a Spanish city famed for its pottery], and can compete with that of China in its fineness.”

Potters in Puebla combined the Chinese blue and white palette with motifs drawn from Chinese, Middle Eastern, Spanish, and American design to create something new and uniquely Mexican.  This jar is a typical example; its shape comes from a Chinese guan, a bulbous covered jar, and painted on the side is a long-tailed quetzal, a Mexican bird that was important in Aztec mythology. 

The jar was most likely a chocolatero, a vessel used to store cacao beans which were often fitted lockable, iron lids.