This installation in the Mary Stamas Gallery celebrates a recent gift of more than 130 works by the Saturday Evening Girls of the Paul Revere Pottery (1908–1942). Because of the design and color of the wares, and the reform-minded philosophy of the Pottery, products of the Saturday Evening Girls Club have become icons of the Arts and Crafts movement of the early twentieth century.
The Saturday Evening Girls Club (SEG) was one of many library reading groups developed in Boston’s North End by reform-minded local philanthropists to educate and assimilate immigrant girls and to keep them “off the streets.” The Saturday Evening group included the oldest girls, many of whom had dropped out of school in order to contribute to their family’s income. The Paul Revere Pottery was established to offer these girls a healthy and safe environment to earn their wages, surrounded by their peers. The SEGs, as they came to call themselves, decorated the Pottery’s bowls, plates, vases, and other forms with stylized imagery of animals, flowers, landscapes, and other designs in earthy tones of blue, green, yellow and brown. The playful ceramics could be personalized with names, initials, or moralistic mottos.
The vast majority of works in the collection were decorated by one of the Pottery’s best artists, Sara Galner, the mother of the collection’s donor. Galner, a Jewish immigrant from Austria-Hungary, joined the reading club as a young girl and later worked at the Pottery until her marriage. Objects bearing her signature span at least ten years, including some of the earliest years of the Pottery’s production and the height of their artistic achievement and success in the mid-1910s. Examples of her work show the Pottery’s efforts to refine both materials and technique, as well as Galner’s own refinement and maturity as an artist.