Mary Louise McLaughlin, (1847-1939) – American Potter


Mary Louise McLaughlin (1847-1939) was an American pottery and porcelain decorator. She was active in Cincinnati, Ohio.


She studied art in Cincinnati and the University of Cincinnati School of Design under Benn Pitman.


Underglaze slip-decorated Haviland faience from Limoges inspired her when she was first introduced to painting by Benn Pitman and German instructor Maria Eggers in Cincinnati. McLaughlin started to imitate the method. She was a forerunner in the American ceramics movement by popularising China painting.

She published China Painting: A Practical Manual for the Use of Amateurs in the Decoration of Hard Porcelain (1877). In 1877, she successfully duplicated Limoges faience at P.L. Coultry’s pottery in Cincinnati. 

McLaughlin served as the Cincinnati Pottery Club president from 1879 until its dissolution in 1890. The club was founded by Laura Fry, Agnes Pitman, and Elizabeth Nourse. Their work was fired at Frederick Dallas Pottery and then at Rookwood Pottery, owned by Maria Longworth Nichols, until 1883. She began experimenting with slip painting on the inside of moulds at the Brockman Pottery in 1894 and referred to this artwork as American Faience (patented by her in 1894). She quickly stopped using it because she was unhappy with the results. She established and served as president of the Associated Artists of Cincinnati, a group of metalworkers and ceramic decorators, in 1890. Pottery Decoration Under the Glaze was one of her books (1880). Her 40-inch (Im) Ali Baba vase was the biggest ever made in the USA, of which three models were made.

She briefly worked with copper before returning to ceramics in 1895 and creating the carved Losanti ware until 1904, when she gave up pottery to focus on writing about politics and history. 

McLaughlin received assistance from Margaret Hickey, who cared for the kiln and cast the porcelain. McLaughlin started focusing more on metalwork, jewellery making, needlework, etching, painting, and sculpture in 1914, and she continued to work until she was 92 years old.


She showed her carved desk (under the direction of Henry Lindley Fry and William Henry Fry) at the 1876 Philadelphia ‘Centennial Exposition.’ In 1877, her Limoges-type faience was shown in Cincinnati and New York. and receiving an honourable mention at the 1878 Paris ‘Exposition Universelle.’ She showed 20 pieces of her Losanti ware at the 1899 exhibition of the Cincinnati Art Museum. She received a bronze medal for her work at the 1901 Buffalo ‘Pan-American Exposition’, where she exhibited 27 pieces, and a silver medal for her metalwork at the 1900 Paris ‘Exposition Universelle.


Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The design encyclopedia. Laurence King Publishing.

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