A look at the design, market and legacy of Victorian pottery

Friday, July 31, 2015

Majolica in the Movies: "From the Terrace"

Who would have suspected that a steamy pot boiler from 1960 with husband and wife team Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward would have a piece of majolica prominently placed in one of the sets?

For those who are not familiar with the storyline, Paul Newman is a young, ambitious business man unhappily married to socialite Joanne Woodward. On a business trip to Pennsylvania he is invited to the home of an associate for dinner.

Well of course, this business associate has a lovely young daughter, played by Ina Balin and a majolica owl pitcher! It's love at first sight, not for Paul and the majolica but for Paul and Ina. They decide not to pursue their feelings because of Paul's marriage to Joanne... at least not at first.

Which one is prettier?
The majolica shown is an odd choice for set dressing in this story. It's a figural owl pitcher. I suppose the rustic quality of the pottery is intended to communicate that this home is in a rural part of Pennsylvania, but it's really the only thing in the home, aside from a Staffordshire dog, that is the least bit "country-ish." The home is actually closer to a small mansion. (There are a lot of mansions in this movie.)

A better choice might have been a piece by the Etruscan Works because of the Pennsylvania setting, but I suppose we can't quibble. It's the only piece seen but it's always fun to spot familiar majolica in an unexpected place like this.

Oh, in case you are interested, the movie has a happy ending that doesn't involve Joanne but does involve the owl pitcher, at least by association.

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